It was almost like the ending was inevitable. In the final round of an Ivy League playoff, which would determine which of the four league co-champions would earn an NCAA tournament bid, the Red — which entered yesterday’s match winless against Yale this season — had played four hard-fought games against the Bulldogs (15-7, 10-4 Ivy), tying the match at two games a piece. However, the volleyball team (16-8, 10-4) would not finish with a win, as the spikers suffered a heart breaking 16-14 loss in its fifth and final game of the night and the season in Schenectady, N.Y., yesterday. Yale will now continue on to the NCAA tournament, having earned the league’s automatic bid.
The weekend began strongly for the Red. Cornell opened up against the Princeton Tigers (19-7, 10-4), who, despite their strong record, the Red has handled well this season. Cornell kept this trend going on Saturday, sweeping the Tigers, 3-0, with wins of 30-25, 30-22, and 30-26.
Cornell simply outplayed Princeton, as it did in the squads’ other two matches of 2004. The Red significantly out-hit the Tigers, .215-.085. In addition, Cornell had 12.0 blocks, while Princeton only managed 4.0 as a team. With co-captain Whitney Fair grabbing yet another double-double, with 43 assists and 13 digs, and junior co-captain Kelly Kramer leading the team in digs with 26 on the night, the Red also proved individually unstoppable. Despite a late surge by the Tigers in the last game of the match to tie the game at 24-all, the Red was able to hold out and go on a 6-2 run to end it and move on to the next round.
However, Cornell has not had it easy against the top-seeded Bulldogs in any sense this season. After suffering an embarrassing loss two weeks ago, which essentially opened the door and allowed the Bulldogs to earn a share of the league title, head coach Deitre Collins was quick to call this team “the best in the Ivy League.” And, indeed, Yale proved this yesterday, albeit by a slim margin, taking the match by a single game with a two-point differential. The final game scores were 19-30, 30-26, 32-30, 28-30, and 14-16.
Despite the clear back-and-forth play, credit must be given to a Yale squad that has won each of its last nine matches. Yale setter Jacqueline Becker once again was a huge factor, putting up 73 assists. In addition, Shannon Farrell accounted for 35.5 points individually, and picked up an easy double-double with 31 kills and 16 digs.
Cornell played extremely well itself in a match that was closer than the 2000 presidential election. Cornell superstar sophomore Liz Bishop set a school record with 33 kills, capping off what has been an incredible season by her. In addition, junior Whitney Fair picked up 78 assists, which exceeded Becker’s total by five.
Cornell finishes this season on a high note, winning its first Ivy title since 1993. The Red also did this with a first-year coach and no seniors on the squad. The same group will return next year, as the squad will make another run for the NCAA tournament.
Archived article by Mike Pandolfini
Sun Staff Writer