It was an emotional night, as seniors Rachel Adomat, Heather Young, Kristen Hughes, Whitney Fair, and Kelly Kramer took the floor at Newman Arena for the last time in their collegiate careers and the Cornell volleyball team (19-3, 12-0 Ivy) swept Columbia (6-17, 4-8), 3-0, last night on East Hill. The victory assured the Red at least a share of its second consecutive Ivy League championship. Last night’s game was highlighted by junior Elizabeth Bishop’s record-tying 1,212nd career kill to earn the Red match point in the final game.
Bishop led the Red with 16 kills, while junior Joanna Weiss and Adomat added 10 and 12 kills, respectively. Fair notched a team-high 30 assists, while Cornell’s all-time career digs leader, Kramer, added 10 to her total in the victory. The win put the team one victory away from clinching sole possession of the conference title with matches against Penn and Princeton coming up this Friday and Saturday, respectively.
“I’m excited but not as excited as I’ll be Saturday night, I hope,” said head coach Deitre Collins. “I’m just relieved. It’s hard for any team to go back to back and it’s nice to know that we are assured of the fact that we are conference champions – whether we are co-champions or not, we’re there. Somebody else has to work to get there and we’re in control.”
After tying midway through game one at 11-11, Cornell took a lead it wouldn’t relenquish after Bishop recorded a kill and helped out on a block-assist with Young. Unable to the stop the momentum, Columbia then fell further behind as Fair tossed up a perfect set to Bishop, who mega-spiked it home to put Cornell up by three points. Adomat, Weiss, and junior Alaina Town all went on to record kills as Cornell won the first game, 30-25.
Game two followed the same winning trend as the Red took control early. After Columbia cut the lead to 4-3 on a service ace, Weiss then stopped any momentum the Lions could have gained as she recorded a kill to give the Red a two-point lead. Hughes then took the ball at the service line and led the Red to six consecutive points. Cornell extended their lead on an Adomat spike before Collins went to her bench and gave Cornell a glimpse of the future as freshman Emily Borman subbed into the game. Freshman Hilary Holland also received playing time and recorded four assists in games two and three. Cornell eventually won game two, 30-15, on consecutive kills by Young and Adomat.
Game three belonged to Bishop, as she notched her record-tying kill on the last point of the game, giving the Red a 30-28 victory. Sophomore Amy Gordon handled the setting duties and recorded 16 assists. The game was close the entire match until junior Katie Rademacher eclipsed a Columbia lead as she recorded a kill and then a block to bring the match even at 26-26. After Columbia took a point lead on an out-of-bounds serve, junior Alex Dyer tied it with a kill and then Bishop spiked the ball into the middle of the Lions’ defense to give the Red the lead for good.
“It’s just unbelievable and it’s very exciting to tie [the record],” Bishop said. “It’s been a great year. These girls are my best friends and with the seniors and this being their last season, we’ve been through so much as a team that it’s nice to have this much success.”
All five seniors contributed in the victory which saw the Red go undefeated on their own home court this season. As the game ended, all the seniors shared a hug that reflected their bond as teammates on the court and friends off the floor.
“I was trying not to think that it was our last game here,” Kramer said. “It’s a great feeling to close out my senior year here at home with a win. What can I say? It’s been an incredible four years. This senior season has been almost a fairy tale. I’m so excited for the team because I see what’s ahead for them and it’s exciting.”
What is ahead for them was displayed by the play of some of the freshmen and Seton Hall transfer Dyer. Regarded as one of the hardest hitters on the team, Dyer showed promise for next season as she recorded five kills on only seven attempts. Freshman Jessica Misse also recorded two kills.
“While we are winning now, it was nice to play some other players and know that the future looks really bright too,” Collins said. “They just need time to play and that is the hard thing when you are trying to accomplish a lot and have as many people as we do. They work hard in practice every day and we know they are getting better all the time and it’s nice for them to get a chance to showcase it.”
Despite glimpses of what is in store for the Red next season, Cornell’s focus is on winning its first NCAA playoff berth since 1993, which is something the Red can clinch by winning one game against either Penn (8-14, 5-6) or Princeton (14-8, 5-6) this upcoming Friday and Saturday.
“This whole season has been great so far,” Fair said. “Now we just have to focus on our next goal which is winning this weekend.”
Archived article by Tim Kuhls
Sun Staff Writer