On paper, it looks as though the volleyball team should have no trouble holding onto its first-place standing in the Ivy League this weekend when it plays Dartmouth (9-7, 2-4 Ivy) and Harvard (3-13, 0-6 Ivy) on the road. However, the Red (12-3, 5-0 Ivy) isn’t about to take anything for granted.
“Dartmouth started off the season really strong and Harvard had a pretty good preseason, so I’m surprised, actually, that that they are struggling somewhat right now,” head coach Deitre Collins said. “That doesn’t mean at anytime that it doesn’t turn around for them. So we have to enter this weekend like we enter any other weekend – prepared to play at our highest level, and hopefully come out on top.”
This season, the Green has won three tournament titles and strung together an eight-game winning streak – including two victories over Harvard – before losing four consecutive league matches. In last weekend’s action, Dartmouth pushed Brown to five games before falling, 15-13, in the tiebreaker and was swept by Yale the next day. However, both of the matches were on the road, and the Green will have home-court advantage on its side this weekend.
Jess Thomas leads the Green with 3.59 kills per game, while Katie Hirsch pitches in with 7.20 assists per game. Dartmouth has a balanced defense, with five players averaging at least two digs per game.
After facing Dartmouth, the Red will travel to Cambridge, Mass., where it will face the last of the league co-champions from last year. The Crimson is in the midst of a five-match losing streak that includes sweeps by Yale and a 3-1 loss to Brown last weekend.
“I don’t think that we think as much about who the teams were that we tied [for the Ivy League championship last year], because there were so many opportunities for us to step up and be in front – and we would lose. So it wasn’t about the other teams as much as it was about us. So our focus this year is on what we can do and let them worry about themselves,” Collins said. “And as long as we stay one step ahead of the pack by winning our matches, it doesn’t matter who was in that foursome last year. – We know that anyone can win at anytime, but we want to make sure that we’re the ones doing it.”
Leigh Martin earned Ivy League Player of the Week honors for the Crimson after putting up 65 assists against Brown. Suzie Trimble leads Harvard with 3.02 kills per game, and Laura Mahon and Kathryn McKinley both notch more than three digs per game for the Crimson.
Cornell, ranked No. 3 in the Northeast Region by the RichKern.com/AVCA Computer Index, will be on the road for the first time in conference play after earning an undefeated league record at home. For the first time, the Red will put that mark to the test on another team’s court.
“I think it’s important to know that you can win at home because then you always have that safe haven that you can come back to and everybody has to play you here once,” Collins said. “The hard part has been becoming a good road team. We’ve been both up and down on the road, so we’ve got a lot to prove by going back-to-back weekends, having to play hard matches and really fighting to be a good road team as well.”
The Red leads the league in hitting percentage (.246), and stands second in the league in opponent hitting percentage (.142).
Junior outside hitter Elizabeth Bishop is first in the league with 4.87 kills per game, which also puts her 22nd in the nation. Two of Cornell’s middle blockers, senior Heather Young and junior Joanna Weiss, rank first and second in the Ancient Eight, respectively, in blocks per game. Senior libero Kelly Kramer is third in the league with 4.51 digs per game, and classmate Whitney Fair is ranked third among Ivy players with 12.00 assists per game.
Archived article by Olivia Dwyer
Sun Assistant Sports Editor