Although the Red is eyeing an undefeated Ivy League season and a conference championship with five matches left to play, the volleyball team refuses to overlook any opponent – including this weekend’s foes, Dartmouth and Harvard, ranked seventh and eighth, respectively, in the conference.
“Now all of a sudden, we’re the team with a big bulls-eye on our back and we still have a huge goal of being undefeated now, so we have to take every game as if it’s our last,” Collins said.
The Red (16-3, 9-0 Ivy) defended its perfect league mark in a come-from-behind, 3-2 victory over Yale a week ago and a 3-1 decision over Brown the following night. And while Cornell boasts many advantages over Harvard (3-17, 0-10 Ivy) and Dartmouth (10-10, 3-7 Ivy), both squads managed to steal a game from the Red in the teams’ previous meetings.
“My comment after playing Harvard is that they didn’t feel like a last-place team. They definitely have capabilities and they’re young, so they’re still getting better and you never know what week somebody decides to turn it on,” Collins said. “And nothing would be better for any of these teams than to give us our first loss.”
The Crimson has been in a free-fall since opening its season with a 2-1 record, losing 16 of its last 17 matches. Middle blocker Suzie Trimble leads the team and ranks fourth in the league with 1.09 blocks per game, while Laura Mahon and Kathryn McKinley have grabbed 3.40 and 3.34 digs per game, respectively, good for ninth and 10th in the league. The trio will lead Harvard as it looks to end a nine-match losing streak in Newman Arena tonight.
Tomorrow, the Red will go up against the Green, which is led by outside hitter Jess Thomas, who is fifth in the conference with 3.48 kills per game. The Dartmouth offense has proven to be deadly accurate, as three players – outside hitter Sandy Burbut, libero Morgan Hartley, and setter Katie Hirsch – rank in the top-10 in service aces per game among Ancient Eight teams.
While the memory of last weekend is still fresh and exciting for the team, Collins has no doubt that the squad will be able to give its complete attention to this weekend’s foes.
“I have no doubt that this team will come into the gym and work like we do every day. [Beating Yale and Brown] was huge and it was a hurdle, but we’re not done,” she said. “I don’t anticipate any letdown, I don’t anticipate any change. I just expect us to keep going, because if things go like we think they should go, we still have a long ways to go. That’s kind of like you’re in the middle of your season, not at the end, so we need to keep going.”
And while the Red hopes the peak of its play is still ahead this season, two members of the team are on the brink of breaking lofty benchmarks. Senior libero Kelly Kramer, who has averaged 4.84 digs per game this season, needs only 10 more to break Cornell’s career digs record, currently held by Jen Strazza ’92 with 1,272. Junior outside hitter Elizabeth Bishop, who is first in the Ivy League and 15th in the country with 5.02 kills per game, needs only 53 more kills to surpass the all-time mark in the Red’s record books. With three matches in the next four days – the Red hosts Columbia on Monday – the duo could set new records in the team’s last homestand of the season.
Archived article by Olivia Dwyer
Sun Assistant Sports Editor