November 17, 2004

Volleyball Awaits Playoff Against Ivy Rivals

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Junior co-captain Kelly Kramer of the volleyball team said it best.

“We will be practicing with a little bit more of a sense of urgency because we know it is a must win situation.”

That situation is none other than a possible four-way playoff between Ivy rivals, with the winner receiving a berth into the NCAA tournament. But until tonight, no one will know which teams will actually be participating.

“We will see who wins,” said head coach Deitre Collins. “That’s all we can really do.”

Last weekend, both Cornell and Harvard finished their respective schedules at 10-4, guaranteeing each a share of the Ivy League title. However, both teams dropped a match, which allowed Yale and Princeton to pull within a half game of the lead. Both will have chances tonight to reach the playoff.

Princeton has put itself in an identical situation as a year ago, in that it must beat Penn (15-10, 7-6 Ivy) in its final match to earn a piece of the Ivy League crown. Last season, the Tigers fell 3-1 and the Red is hoping that they have a similar fate tonight. Princeton won its only other meeting with the Quakers earlier this season.

Yale, who hosts Brown (8-16, 5-8 Ivy) tonight, could be the hottest of the four teams. After starting the season 3-4, the Bulldogs have reeled off six straight matches and 14 straight games, including a 3-0 victory at Newman Arena last Friday. If Yale is able to beat the Bears and avenge a 3-2 loss from early October, it will earn the top seed this weekend.

On Monday, the league announced the format for the playoff, which will be held at Union College in Schenectady, N.Y. The seeding for all the scenarios have been determined by the head-to-head records between the teams involved.

Assuming the favored teams win their respective matches — top seeded Yale would face No. 4 Harvard on Saturday, followed by No. 2 Princeton squaring off against the Red. The winners would then play on Sunday to decide who will be the Ivy League’s participant in the NCAA tournament.

An ideal scenario for the Red would be a three-way tie involving itself, Harvard, and Princeton because Cornell would receive a bye and play the winner of the other two teams.

But, no matter whom the opponent, the Red feels confident that if it plays its best, it will emerge victorious – and that all it can do know is get the most out of its practice schedule and hope that is enough.

“Of course our main focus is what we need to do,” Kramer said. “But there is an automatic anxiousness to know what the situation will be.”

Collins mirrors her captain’s opinion.

“We are just focusing on our game,” Collins said. “The difference between our wins and losses is doing what we needed to do for us. It’s all about what we are going to come out and do.”

Archived article by Bryan Pepper
Sun Staff Writer