Returning to Ithaca after opening its season at the NIKE Invitational in Portland, Ore., last weekend, the volleyball team (3-1) is excited to enjoy its first homecourt advantage of the season as it hosts the Big Red Invitational today and tomorrow.
However, with a tough weekend schedule against St. John’s (10-1), American (5-5) and Buffalo (10-2), the Red will be hard pressed to win its own tournament for the second straight year. Binghamton (2-8) is also participating, but will not play Cornell.
[img_assist|nid=18328|title=Net asset|desc=Senior co-captain Elizabeth Bishop spikes a ball during Cornell’s 3-1 home victory over Yale last season. (Kuan-Wei Chen / Sun Staff)|link=popup|align=left|width=100|height=88]
“All three teams should give us some good competition,” said head coach Deitre Collins-Parker. “It could be a very tough weekend for us.”
Nevertheless, Cornell should enter the tournament with some confidence after enjoying moderate success in Portland a week ago.
The Red earned come-from-behind victories in its first two matches of the season against Portland (3-1) and Texas-Pan American (3-2) before faltering against Montana (3-1) as injuries knocked senior Alaina Town and junior Kara Zaragoza out of the tournament. Unfortunately for Cornell, Town and Zaragoza will both remain sidelined for this weekend’s contests as well.
“It’s hard not to have the both for the weekend,” Collins-Parker said. “It definitely affects our offense with [Town] out and we lose some ball control without [Zaragoza].”
In its final match of last weekend, however, Cornell swept High Point behind an impressive .345 attack percentage.
Collins-Parker commented that the Red’s net play should have a large impact on the team’s success this week.
“Our hitting and blocking are going to be very important for us,” Collins-Parker said.
“American is a big team. They have 6-8 twins which gives them a pretty big front line. St. John’s is also offensively strong. I think our defense can handle it — it’s our net game that’s going to have to step up.”
If last weekend is any indication, however, the Red should have the tools to handle those teams. Senior captain Elizabeth Bishop — the returning Ivy League Player of the Year — recorded an impressive 4.00 kills and 3.50 digs per game in her native Portland last weekend. That performance earned her both tournament MVP and Ivy League Player of the Week Awards.
However, Bishop was not the lone Cornell player to earn individual accolades for their play in the NIKE Invitational. Her co-captain, senior middle hitter Joanna Weiss also was named to the all-tournament team after leading the squad with 24 blocks and posting a .420 attack percentage.
Meanwhile, freshman libero Megan Mushovic picked up Ivy League Rookie of the Week honors after averaging 4.50 digs per game in her college debut weekend. Although the Red is happy to have its first tournament behind it, Cornell still has less than half as many games under its belt than any of its opponents in the tournament. Still. the Cornell squad still feels prepared for the weekend and is looking forward to playing in front of its home crowd.
“It’s the nature of the Ivy League — we start two and half weeks behind everybody else — but there’s nothing we can do about it,” Collins-Parker said. “We’re excited to have this tournament at home — it should be a good, level tournament.”