The Cornell volleyball team, which starts its season this Friday in Durham, N.C. at the Duke Invitational Tournament, returns six starters and features seven newcomers after a successful 2004 campaign that saw the Red tie for first in Ivy League competition. This year’s new recruits include five freshmen and two junior transfers – which will provide the squad with one new starter on the outside and added depth at other positions.
After the departure of two outside hitters from last year’s team, depth at the position was a concern for head coach Deitre Collins. However, after freshmen recruitment, Cornell added junior transfers Alex Dyer and international student Thais Mirela, to compliment two-time All-Ivy first team selection junior Elizabeth Bishop. Dyer, who played her last two seasons at Seton Hall, brings exceptional hitting ability to the Red, as her 412 kills from last season were good enough for seventh in the Big East. Mirela, who is the most experienced player on the squad, adds exceptional passing ability and a defensive presence to a strong group of outside hitters. Both players turned down multiple scholarship opportunities to play for the Red.
“Thais and Alex fill a void that we needed,” Collins said. “They are probably the most important additions we’ve had to this team. They give us depth at a place where weren’t very deep. Both players are extremely talented and very exciting to watch.”
Freshmen Katheryn Woodbury is the last member in the group of new outside hitters. Woodbury looks to gain experience and learn under talented seniors Bishop, Kristen Hughes, Rachel Adomat and junior Alaina Town. Woodbury is a left-handed player, who will see action on the opposite right side of the floor. Although Woodbury will prove to be more of a big block for the Red, instead of a true outside force, it still means that teams will have to change the way they defend the Red when she gets the ball.
The most immediate impact that any recruit will have on the team will be at the setter position, as Cornell’s top two setters, sophomore Amy Gordon and senior captain Whitney Fair, both went down with injuries in practice this week. Gordon, who has impressed over the summer and in preseason, broke her finger blocking a Dyer spike, while Fair injured her knee and is being withheld from practice – although coaches and trainers say that she could see the floor again on Friday. Regardless, freshman setter Hilary Holland will be called upon to run the offense. Holland, a California native, is regarded as a natural setter with good hands. She will take on the tough task of controlling the Red’s fast offensive tempo.
The last three recruits that will provide depth for Cornell are freshmen middle blockers Lia Gaetano, Emily Borman, and Jessica Misse.
The group will learn behind solid middle blockers, including senior Heather Young, junior Katie Rademacher, and classmate Joanna Weiss. The trio ranked 18th in the nation and first overall in the Ivy league a season ago with 3.04 blocks per game – a statistic that should only improve this year.
“Lia is a steady middle blocker that comes from a good club team,” Collins said. “Jessica and Emily are two of the most dynamic players on the team. They jump high and they run fast and are extremely athletic. They bring a whole new dimension of athleticism to our team.”
Archived article by Tim Kuhls
Sun Staff Writer