September 25, 2006

Red Wins One at Invite

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A week shy of its Ivy League opener against Columbia, the volleyball team finished with a 1-2 record at the Courtyard by Marriott LaGuardia Invitational in Brooklyn, N.Y., defeating St. Francis, 3-0, in its opener Friday night before dropping matches to San Francisco, 3-1, and Long Island, 3-0, on Saturday.

“We played hard,” said head coach Deitre Collins-Parker. “We ran out of gas by the end of the weekend, but we played well against San Francisco.”

In its first match of the tournament, the Red (5-5) swept St. Francis, 30-11, 30-8 and 30-14 en route to breaking the program record for fewest points allowed in a match. The 33 combined points for the Terriers (0-9) was well below the previous record of 47 set in a match against Colgate in 2002.

Cornell’s efficient offense keyed the dominant victory as the Red recorded an overall .494 attack percentage. Senior captain Elizabeth Bishop and sophomore Kathryn Woodbury both significantly helped boost that percentage as each recorded nine kills off of .750 and .818 hitting, respectively.
[img_assist|nid=18529|title=Building blocks|desc=Junior Amy Gordon (8) and senior Katie Rademacher (3) go up for a block during Cornell’s 3-1 loss to St. John’s on Sept. 15. (Alex Teney / Sun Staff)|link=popup|align=left|width=100|height=63]
Senior Alex Dyer led Cornell with 12 kills for the match, while Amy Gordon put up a strong performance from her setter position with 35 assists and nine digs. The Red also got a boost from the return of senior outside hitter Alaina Town, who had missed the team’s last three matches due to injury. Town contributed seven kills off of a .700 attack percentage and also notched four digs in the contest.

With Cornell enjoying a sizeable lead throughout the match, Collins-Parker took advantage of the situation to play many of her reserves. In fact, the Red used 14 players throughout the three games.

“I don’t get many opportunities to get a lot of different players in the game,” the coach said. “It was nice to get some different lineups and setups in there. It’s good to know what options we have.”

Against San Francisco (15-1), however, it was back to the usual starting lineup for Cornell, as it would have its hands full against the No. 27 Dons. Taking advantage of its own strong blocking and a weak, .130 hitting percentage from the San Francisco squad, Cornell took an early lead in the match with a 30-25 victory in the opening game.

The Dons came right back, however, squeaking by Cornell, 30-27, 30-23 and 31-29 in the next three games to take the match.

“My main concern for our team is that we compete with energy and that’s what we did against San Francisco,” Collins-Parker said. “Though we didn’t play so well in the second game, we were really competitive in the last two. If just a couple of things had gone differently in those games we would have taken that match to a fifth game.”

Bishop and Dyer both made huge contributions to the Red’s cause both at the net and in the back row, combining for 30 kills and 29 digs. Town and senior Joanna Weiss also helped Cornell at the net, adding 11 and 13 kills, respectively. Weiss also led the team in blocks with eight.

Weiss, en route to being named to the all-tournament team, had another big game in Cornell’s tournament finale against Long Island (8-8), leading the squad with nine kills. However, the Red could not find a way to beat the tournament hosts, losing in straight games, 30-19, 30-21, and 30-24.

“We didn’t come to that match with the same energy we had against San Francisco,” Collins-Parker said. “We were flat and we needed to be at the top of our game to compete with them.”

The loss is especially bitter for the Red since Long Island ousted Cornell from the first round of the 2005 NCAA championship tournament, 3-0. Nevertheless, Collins-Parker is happy where her team is right now as its Ivy League schedule approaches.

“I feel like we’re ready for the conference. That’s where we wanted to be right now, so I think we’re in good shape.”