With a bunch of fresh faces — including that of its new head coach — the Cornell volleyball team (0-0, 0-0 Ivy) looks to start its season off strongly today when it opens with a tournament at Cal State Northridge. CSUN, the host of this weekend’s tournament, had a poor start to its season with three consecutive losses to UCLA, Colorado, and Oregon. Southern Methodist University (2-1) and UNLV (2-1) round out the tournament field.
The Red enters this season returning no seniors, but several familiar faces that will help make Cornell competitive in the coming games. Sophomore Elizabeth Bishop, who had a stellar run last season and was named Ivy League Rookie of the Year, will lead on the outside. Junior Whitney Fair, who has started for the past two years, will be a serious threat at the setter position. Junior Kelly Kramer, who had an amazingly strong season last year, will continue to lead at the libero position.
“We’re still in the learning stage,” said head coach Deitre Collins. “But our goal is just to get better every week and prepare for Ivies.”
Cornell’s first game today is against Southern Methodist University. The Mustang’s lone loss came against Texas in its first game of the season, but SMU then proceeded to beat Northern Arizona and Cal Poly at its own tournament last weekend. Senior Beth Karasek will be a major threat — she is averaging 5.78 kills per game thus far.
“We really are going this one day at a time,” Collins said. “The great thing about Cornell is that [we’ve] worked really hard the last few weeks coming into this.”
Later tonight, Cornell will face the host of the tournament, CSUN. CSUN currently sits at the bottom of the Big West conference. However, despite having lost its first three matches, the Matadors pose a serious threat to the Red. Particularly, Cornell will have to watch out for CSUN senior Jen Ryan, who is leading Northridge in kills per game (3.55) and points (41.0). In addition, senior Nadine Nickel has played well for CSUN, and leads the squad in assists per game (7.18) and service aces (3).
Tomorrow will be a big day — particularly for Collins — when the Red meets up with UNLV for its final match of the weekend. UNLV may prove to be a tough squad to handle, especially with its very strong recruiting class this year. Freshman outside hitter Maria Aladjova garnered the most kills per game (4.91) for the Rebels in their first weekend of this season. In addition, Brittani Lumsden trailed right behind her, averaging an impressive 3.82 kills per game.
“Well, they’ve changed a lot,” Collins said with a laugh. “A lot of the kids that played when I was there have graduated.”
Archived article by Mike Pandolfini
Sun Staff Writer