November 19, 2004

Ivies Play for NCAA Berth

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After eking out a share of the Ivy League championship on Saturday, the volleyball team (16-8, 10-4 Ivy) will now have to go just a little further to earn only its second bid to the NCAA tournament in the team’s history. The Red’s first match this weekend will be against Princeton (19-7, 10-4). The Tigers are ranked third in the Ivies. If the Red beats the Tigers, Cornell will then face either Yale (15-7, 10-4) or Harvard (15-9, 10-4) in its final match.

The Red had a strong record against its first opponent, Princeton, this year. Beating the Tigers 3-1 in each of its matches, Cornell never faltered. The last time these two teams met, the Red held the Tigers to a mere .117 hitting percentage and beat Princeton in practically every statistical category, as well.

However, the Tigers are no pushover squad. The black and orange have the best overall record of any team in the four-squad playoff, and they have played extremely well in the last few weeks to earn their playoff berth. In addition, the Tigers are 33-13 all-time against Cornell. While history may not factor into this weekend’s match, the Tigers’ will to win and proven success against the Red cannot be ignored.

Cornell’s most likely second-round opponent, should the Red make it past Princeton, is Yale. Yale has presented the Red with a great deal of trouble in its two games against the spikers this season, coming out on top in both.

The Bulldogs’ first match against the Red was a nail-biter that came down to a fifth game, from which Cornell emerged with a close 15-13 victory.

Last weekend, however, was nearly a season-ending disaster, as Yale put together a tremendous sweep of Cornell, winning one game by Cornell’s biggest loss margin of the season (13 points). If the Red expects to handle the Bulldogs, the team will have to do a better job against Yale’s highly deceptive offense and incredible setting of Jacqueline Becker, who had 51 assists in the teams’ last meeting.

The Red’s other possible opponent this weekend is Harvard. Cornell split its matches against the Crimson this season, losing a close 3-2 match back in early October and then picking up a 3-0 sweep later in the month. While Harvard is a strong squad, featuring some solid players like Laura Mahon, who had 10 kills in the teams’ last meeting, the Crimson is the team least-favored to move onto the NCAA tournament, based on head-to-head statistics. Cornell holds a 26-14 match advantage over the Crimson all-time.Needless to say, with a very young squad and a new coach, this has been an impressive run for Cornell this season.

Matches commence tonight at Union College when the Red faces the Tigers at 7:00 p.m. in the Viniar Center.

Archived article by Mike Pandolfini
Sun Staff Writer