Last season scripted an ending that Cornell volleyball will not soon forget. In an Ivy League playoff game about a year ago, the Red fell on the short end of a 3-2 victory which sent the Bulldogs into the national tournament.
This season’s conclusion could shape up to look a lot like last season. The circumstances are simple – if Yale (20-3, 11-2 Ivy) beats Brown (11-13, 8-5) tonight in Providence, R.I., there will be yet another playoff this Saturday between the two co-champions. If Yale loses, Cornell will walk away with sole possession of the Ivy League title.
“An important part of being a good team is knowing how to be on top,” said head coach Deitre Collins. “The positive is that we are still Ivy League champions, whether we have two wins or none. I hadn’t been extremely excited about the way we had been playing and I kind of bit my tongue on that. We got too comfortable playing good enough to win and not playing the best we could.”
Despite losing back-to-back matches at Penn and Princeton this past weekend, allowing Yale back into contention, the team remains focused on its goal, which is an automatic bid to play in the national tournament.
“We’re all planning on having to play Yale this weekend,” said senior Kristen Hughes. “We’re taking it one day at a time because we know it is going to be a huge mental match. There is still a lot of pressure that we are putting on ourselves because we knew that we controlled our own destiny last weekend.”
This season does have its differences in comparison to last year. While last year’s team went winless in three matches against the rival Bulldogs, this season’s team should prove to have the mental edge, as it has defeated Yale twice by scores of 3-1 at home and 3-2 in a come-from-behind effort on the road.
“More important than the mental edge that we have or don’t have against Yale is the importance of us really getting back to playing good volleyball,” Collins said.
All the team can do now is practice and prepare for whatever happens. The Red will look to emphasize blocking during practice, which has been the team’s strength, and at times, weakness, all season long.
Although the team doesn’t know what is in store for them, they realize that this week’s preparation is key.
“We are going to go through this week one day at a time,” said senior Rachel Adomat. “We totally know that if we play the way we are capable of, that we can beat them again like we’ve done twice before. We’ve played our share of good matches this season, but before this weekend, we kind of took it easy and were winning without having to try. We definitely need to pick it up a step and play the way our team is capable of playing.”
Archived article by Tim Kuhls
Sun Staff Writer