The volleyball team (14-3, 7-0 Ivy) will look to keep sole possession of first place in the Ivy League this weekend, when it travels to face second-place Yale (15-2, 6-1 Ivy) and third-place Brown (7-11, 4-3 Ivy) tonight and tomorrow afternoon, in what looks to be the most pivotal weekend of the year thus far. A victory against the Bulldogs would give the Red a two-game cushion at the top of the conference standings, while a loss could potentially set up another Ivy playoff between the two teams at Union College.
“We know that going into their place, [the Bulldogs] are confident in that they are doing almost as well as we are,” said head coach Deitre Collins. “We know that this is probably the biggest weekend that we will encounter this year. With them right on our heels, this game is more important than you could ever imagine.”
While Yale will compete in the comforts of its own home, the Red stomps into New Haven, Conn., having won 13 of its last 14 matches, with the only loss coming on the road against non-conference opponent, Syracuse (19-7, 7-2 Big East), in which the Red rested junior Elizabeth Bishop (knee), and played without classmates Katie Rademacher and Alex Dyer because of a back injury and illness, respectively.
The players are now healthy and Bishop has been rejuvenated, as she has shown by her play over the last two weeks. The outside hitter was just recently named Ivy League Player of the Week for her double-doubles against Harvard and Dartmouth this past weekend. She currently leads the Ivy League with 5.00 kills per game. The honor was her second of the season and the fifth of her career.
Bishop’s recent surge proves to be quite a scare for a Yale team that had its hands full containing the Red’s balanced offense in a Cornell victory on Oct. 8 at Newman Arena. In that match, Bishop recorded 21 kills, and juniors Thais Mirela and Joanna Weiss posted an additional 14 kills apiece. The game proved to be the coming out party for Mirela, who has recorded three double-doubles in her last five matches. The Red also boasts a strong bench, as junior Alaina Town and senior Rachel Adomat both recorded 11 kills last week against Harvard.
The Red will look to trip up the Bulldogs’ high-octane offense by slowing down outside hitter Shannon Farrell and setter Jacqueline Becker. Farrell notched 14 kills and 12 digs in the first meeting between the two teams, while Becker added 63 assists.
“When playing them in the first game we stopped Shannon Farrell, who is their best player,” Collins said. “We slowed her down and took [Becker] out of the picture because she’s a huge offensive threat, and we contained their outside. We have to do the same things again and stop their middles. We are just going to continue to be who we are. We can’t change too much but we also know we can get better.”
Cornell will face Brown on Saturday afternoon in a rematch of an Oct. 7 game in which the Red swept Brown 3-0. Brown came out spirited, but senior Rachel Adomat and her team-leading 15 kill performance halted any hope for a Brown victory.
“Anybody who is on their home court feels like they have a chance,” Collins said. “We expect Brown to come out firing. I don’t expect a lot of changes from them because I think that the level they are capable of playing at is what they played at last time.”
The Red will focus on slowing down Julie Mandolini-Trummel, who led the Bears with 11 kills and eight blocks in the first meeting. Cornell will look to play strong defense, after being out-blocked by Brown 12-5. The team will call upon Ivy League blocks-per-game leaders senior Heather Young and Weiss to carry the load, along with senior libero Kelly Kramer and her team-leading 275 digs.
“The girls are so pumped and so focused about this weekend,” Collins said. “Our goal is not halfway through the Ivy. Our goal is coming out on top at the end of Ivy League play. We are working towards that and this weekend is the biggest step towards getting at that goal.”
Archived article by Tim Kuhls
Sun Staff Writer