In a win that is regarded as the biggest victory in years for Cornell volleyball, the Red beat IPFW in Fort Wayne, Ind., and won the IPFW Invitational. Junior outside hitter Elizabeth Bishop earned MVP honors, while junior Joanna Weiss and sophomore Amy Gordon were also named to the all-tournament team.
“This is one of the biggest wins for us … Belmont was also strong, but IPFW was the big one,” said senior co-captain Kelly Kramer.
After a week where illness and injury made for rough practices, the Red dropped its first game of the tournament to Belmont on Friday night, 30-23. However, Kramer and her teammates rallied and won the next three games to take a 3-1 win from the Bruins.
“We definitely came bouncing back. We dropped the first game of the first match Friday – that was kind of reflective of the rough week in practice,” Kramer said. “We did a good job of pulling together and being the team we usually are.”
Bishop headlined Cornell’s victory, earning 28 kills and 12 digs. The story of the game can be found in team hitting percentages – in the first game, Belmont out-hit the Red, .375 to .172, before Cornell rebounded to a .448 percentage in game two to the Bruins’ .024 team mark. The Red also dominated the net game, hitting more than twice as many blocks as Belmont, 13.0 to 6.0. Weiss was a force at the net, contributing nine blocks, eight kills, and two digs.
“We started off kind of slower, but we picked it up right away due to defense,” Gordon said. “We had a lot of digs in the back – and that gets everyone fired up.”
Gordon had a breakout match, hitting a season-best 44 assists, 11 digs, two blocks assists and a kill. Senior middle blocker Heather Young also had a strong match across the board, putting up five kills, four service aces and six blocks. The Red’s deep, strong roster has become a calling card this season.
“It’s really exciting,” Kramer said. “It’s fun to know no matter who’s on the court we’re just strong all around. Also, it gives us a lot of confidence if anyone is off.”
Belmont was led by Lindsay Cleveland, who had a double-double of her own with 13 kills and 12 digs. Jaye Schuler and Katie Tobiasz added 11 and 10 kills, respectively, while Colleen Nilson had 12 digs and 41 assists in the losing cause.
On Saturday, the Red went up against IPFW, who was ranked 24th in the nation in winning percentage before last weekend’s competition. The Mastadons had lost just one match before facing Cornell, to then-No. 7 Florida, and beat Belmont in five games on Friday.
The Mastadons seemed to be on their way to improving that winning percentage, jumping out to an early lead in the first game. Although Cornell regrouped, the Red was unable to catch up as IPFW took the first game, 30-28. But the Red refused to give up.
Kramer and the team came on strong in the second game, responding to the Mastadons’ victory in game one with wins in games two and three, by identical scores of 30-24. The final game proved to be another close affair, with the Red pulling out a narrow, 32-30 victory.
“I really think it was the defense and blocking,” Gordon said. “We really wore them down. Any hard balls they hit at us, we dug them out.”
Bishop led the Red once again, recording her second double-double of the tournament with 22 kills and 15 digs. Gordon and Weiss also stepped up for the Red, with Gordon putting up 57 assists and 19 digs, while Weiss contributed 12 kills, five blocks, and two digs. The Red saw strong performances deep in the roster, as junior outside hitter Alaina Town had 13 kills, six blocks, three assists, and two digs. Young had nine blocks and six kills, and Kramer added 20 digs from her libero position. Coming off the bench for Cornell, senior Kristin Hughes had 13 digs and two assists, sophomore Kara Zaragoza added six digs, and senior outside hitter Rachel Adomat had 10 kills, five digs, and three blocks.
Cynara Martins led the Mastadons with game-highs of 24 kills and 24 digs, while Nicole Howell had 20 kills and 13 digs for the hosts.
Archived article by Olivia Dwyer
Sun Assistant Sports Editor