Four victories is all that separates the Cornell volleyball team from — at the very least — a share of the Ivy League championship. Four victories and the Red will have the opportunity to earn an NCAA tournament berth for the first time since 1993. Four victories and the team can accomplish a goal that it set at the end of last season, when it finished in second place. And those four victories could become only two more after this weekend”s road matches against Penn and Princeton.
‘These matches are huge,’ said junior co-captain Kelly Kramer. ‘We are in a kind of must-win situation. Everyone is excited and we just hope we can come out and play well.’
Currently, the Red is in a first place tie with rival Harvard, a squad the Red swept 3-0 last weekend. Both teams have four matches left and assumes the other is not going to lose again, making every match, every game, and every point that much more important.
If both teams do win out, they will share the Ivy League championship and have a one-match playoff on November 19, with the winner earning a spot in the NCAA tournament.
But first, the Red must win four matches in a row, a task much easier said than done. Cornell travels to both Penn and Princeton over the next two days to play two matches that are almost always hotly contested. Although the Red has beaten both of these teams earlier in the season, it will be much tougher this time around.
‘We”ve watched film and we know what was successful against them and where they had success against us,’ Kramer said. ‘As in any second time around, we know they will be making adjustments and we will definitely change some things. But, I think the most important part is making the right adjustments during the match.’
Not only will Penn and Princeton come out with a different strategy, but the Red”s first meeting with both teams was at Newman Arena. Playing on the road in a more hostile environment may change the dynamic of the matches.
‘They are both really tough gyms to play in,’ Kramer said. Hopefully that won”t affect the team”s performance, but it will definitely be a challenge.’
Today, Cornell will face off against the Quakers (12-9, 5-5 Ivy), who are tied for fifth place in the league with Brown. The team is led offensively by the three-headed monster of juniors Michelle Kauffman, Cara Thomason and freshman Laura Black, who are averaging 3.01, 2.99, and 2.90 kills per game, respectively.
Tomorrow, the Red will visit Princeton (15-6, 6-3 Ivy League). Senior Alex Brown and her 3.20 kills per game has led the Tigers to a 3rd place standing in the Ivy League, only one game in the loss column behind the leaders.
‘We know we are capable of beating them, but we are trying to not go in with too much confidence because we know what these teams are capable of,’ Kramer said. ‘Both of these matches are going to be close and they very well could go five games.’
Archived article by Bryan Pepper
Sun Staff Writer