The Cornell volleyball team opened up its season with three straight weekends on the road, going 6-3 over that span. After losing its first three against nationally ranked competition, the Red has rebounded with six victories in a row to end the road trip. However, the schedule will not be getting any easier, as the Red will begin its Ivy League competition with a home-and-home series today and tomorrow against Columbia.
“Practices have been going really well this week,” said junior co-captain Kelly Kramer. “We have been going really hard every day. The team has a new energy knowing that we are starting leagues this weekend.”
The Red will host the Lions at Newman Arena this afternoon and then will travel to New York City for the road match tomorrow. Last season, Cornell was able to sweep its two meeting against Columbia. The two teams have 38 all-time meetings, with the Red winning 34 of those contests.
Thus far this season, the Lions have gotten off to a rocky start. The team opened with a seven-match losing streak before finally defeating Sacred Heart almost two weeks ago. The Lions added another win in its next match, but they have since lost three in a row at the Marist Invitational. Columbia has an overall record of 2-10.
The Lions are currently in a rebuilding mode, which explains its struggles thus far this season. The team is composed of only one upperclassman, junior Lucy Reynales, two sophomores, and seven freshmen. Freshman Cassie Ligh leads the team with 2.98 kills and 3.18 digs per game. As a team, Columbia is fifth in the league in digs, averaging 16.18 per game.
“They are an Ivy League team, so it is definitely going to be tough,” Kramer said. “They have a lot of new players and we actually do not know much about them.”
Winners of its last six, the Red is playing as well as it has in years. The team has amassed a winning streak of 17 games in a row, just one shy of the school record set in 1989, and tied last season. As a team, Cornell leads the Ivy League in three statistical categories, including assists, blocks, and kills. Several Red players are at or near the top of the league in these categories. Sophomore Elizabeth Bishop is leading the league in kills per game with 4.77, while junior middle blocker Heather Young is first in blocks with 1.41 per game. Young is also hitting .336 for the year, good for second in the league.
“The middles are coming off a really good weekend and they are looking to continue to play well,” Kramer said.
The Red feels that it is extremely important to get the Ivy League season off on the right foot and a pair of wins over the weekend would do just that.
“Our outlook for this weekend is really good,” Kramer said. “Everyone is in the mindset that we have to step it up and play well.”
Archived article by Bryan Pepper
Sun Staff Writer