Trying to replace a class of five seniors that helped lead the volleyball team to its second NCAA tournament berth is no easy task at all. But with a core group of experienced veterans and several up-and-coming players, a third consecutive Ivy League title and another shot at the national tournament is not out of reach for the Red this season.
In its mission to dominate at the net, seniors Joanna Weiss and Katie Rademacher will be Cornell’s primary weapons.
“As long as they stay healthy, they should become better and better blockers,” said head coach Deitre Collins-Parker. “Once Weiss starts getting more consistent with her blocking, she should dominate at the net. Also, we’re hoping to get [Rademacher] more involved on offense.”
A first-team All-Ivy selection a year ago, the 6-4 Weiss has turned into an intimidating figure for opposing teams. A year ago, she averaged 2.97 kills and 1.24 blocks per game, while maintaining a .406 attack percentage, shattering the previous Cornell record. Weiss is already on her way to matching those marks this season with an average of 1.37 blocks per game and a .364 hitting percentage through the team’s first seven games.
After missing much of last year with injuries, Rademacher has already shown the form that earned her an All-Ivy selection in 2004. Currently leading the Ivy League in blocks per game at 1.63, she is on pace to set the Cornell career mark in that category.
Sophomores Emily Borman, Jessica Misse and Lia Gaetano will all be competing for time at this position, as well as freshman Juliana Rogers.
When speaking of breaking Cornell records, however, senior co-captain Elizabeth Bishop has had the most success in that department among the active players. The reigning Ivy League Player of the Year, she is in position to hold multiple offensive and defensive Cornell records by the time she graduates. In fact, Bishop already holds the school’s career kills mark after ranking in the top-25 nationally in kills per game each year.
Through the early part of her senior campaign, Bishop has been relentless, as she leads the team with 4.41 kills per game and is second on the squad with 2.56 digs.
Meanwhile, senior Alex Dyer has already made an immediate impact for Cornell this year after only limited action after transferring from Seton Hall last year. Currently second on the team with 3.19 kills per game, Dyer has adjusted well to her full-time role opposite Bishop.
“[Bishop] continues to do what she does for us every year, but it’s nice to have [Dyer],” Collins-Parker said. “She takes a lot of pressure off of Bishop and the rest of the attack.”
Senior Alaina Town, sophomore Kathryn Woodbury and freshman Katelyn Fitzpatrick will give the Red depth outside.
For the most part, junior co-captain Amy Gordon will be the floor general of the attack as she has emerged as Cornell’s full-time setter after splitting time with Whitney Fair ’06 a year ago. After averaging 11.11 assists and 2.43 digs per game in the 2005 campaign, Gordon appears primed to at least match those marks as she has averaged 11.31 assists and 2.27 digs through the early part of this season.
“She has become a lot more consistent,” Collins-Parker said. “We’re trying to help her become a little bit more diversified in her attack choices this year.”
Sophomore setter Hilary Holland should also see some time on the court depending on the set-up Collins-Parker chooses to uses. Already, she has earned playing time as a defensive substitution and has collected 1.44 digs per game.
Freshmen Megan Mushovic and Stephanie Comon and junior Kara Zaragoza should also play key defensive roles for Cornell. Acting as the team’s libero, Mushovic leads Cornell with 4.15 digs per game. Meanwhile, Comon has added 1.59 digs per game and four service aces in a defensive role, while Zaragoza should also help out in the back row after recovering from an early-season injury.