Overcoming cross-country travel and the rust that comes with a nine-month offseason, the volleyball team opened its 2006 campaign in impressive fashion by winning three of its four matches at Portland’s NIKE Classic this weekend.
“We were really excited to play other people,” said senior co-captain Elizabeth Bishop. “Everyone did a great job.”
The Red (3-1) opened the tournament Friday with a 3-1 victory over the host squad before rallying from a 0-2 deficit to defeat Texas-Pan American later in the day. On Saturday, Cornell suffered its first setback of the season in a 3-1 loss Montana before rebounding for 3-0 sweep of High Point.
Bishop and classmate Joanna Weiss set the tone for the team’s success, as each captured individual honors for their performances at the tournament.
Playing in front of family and friends in her native Portland, Ore., Bishop did not disappoint, earning MVP honors for the tournament after posting 64 kills and 56 digs between the four contests.
“You couldn’t ask for more — being a senior and playing in your home city,” Bishop said. “The Cornell fans gave us a great reception. We had more fans than all the other teams combined.”
[img_assist|nid=18194|title=In your face|desc=Senior Joanna Weiss (4) was named to the NIKE Classic alltournament team after collecting 24 blocks and 46 kills on the weekend.|link=popup|align=left|width=100|height=100]
Weiss, a middle blocker, was also named to the all-tournament team after several dominating performances with her play at the net. On the weekend, she contributed 24 blocks and 46 kills.
Senior Alex Dyer and junior Amy Gordon, both of whom are assuming larger roles for the Red this season over a year ago, enjoyed strong tournament performances.
As a junior-year transfer in 2005, Dyer made just 12 appearances for the Red, posting 54 total kills and 17 digs for the season. The outside hitter almost surpassed those marks this weekend alone, as she contributed 45 kills, 9 blocks and 25 digs to the Cornell effort.
Meanwhile, Gordon, who has emerged as the primary setter for the Red after splitting time at that position a season ago, collected 162 assists for the tournament.
Kicking off its season against Portland, the Red found itself in a hole early after a 24-30 loss in the first game. Nevertheless, Cornell rallied with 30-27, 31-29 and 30-24 wins in the subsequent games to clinch the program’s 650th victory.
Significant edges in attack percentage (.227-.145) and total kills (64-56) paved the way for the Red’s win over the Pilots. Bishop also played a major role in putting the match away with 18 kills in the final two games.
Against Texas-Pan America, Cornell again founds itself down early after close 28-30 and 29-31 losses in the first two games. However, the Red dominated the rest of the contest taking the last three games by an average margin of seven points with wins of 30-25, 30-19 and 15-10.
“We had comeback against Yale last year after being down 2-0 so we knew we could do it again,” Bishop said. “We knew we were the better team. We just had to refocus and capitalize on their weaknesses.”
Again, Bishop had a large hand in the victory with 17 kills and 17 digs. Freshman libero Megan Mushovic also had a stand-out game with 23 digs. Other key statistics for the Red included a .220-.117 advantage in hitting and committing only half as many attack errors as the Broncs, holding a 42-21 edge in that category.
Unlike its two matches the day before, Cornell won its first game against Montana 30-21. The Grizzlies, powered by 19 service aces for the match, came right back to nip the Red 30-27, 31-29 and 30-27 in the next three games to hand Cornell its first loss of the season.
The defeat came despite Cornell holding an edge in kills, hitting percentage and blocks.
In its final match of the tournament, the Red bounced right back in dominating style, defeating High Point 3-0 by scores of 30-18, 30-28 and 30-17. Weiss, Bishop and Dyer each had double-digit kills as Cornell posted an impressive .345 hitting percentage. Gordon and senior Katie Rademacher also has strong showings with 40 assists and 8 blocks, respectively.
“We need to make a few adjustments, but we’re really happy overall,” Bishop said.