The volleyball team would not be denied this weekend as its quest for a second consecutive outright Ivy League title rested on its performance in Newman Arena against first-place Yale and Ivy foe Brown. With the help of over 300 fans on Friday, and 250-plus supporters on Saturday, the women played their best team volleyball of the year, defeating Yale, 3-1, on Friday and shutting out Brown, 3-0, on Saturday.
With the two victories, Cornell (13-8, 8-2) moved into a tie with Yale (13-6, 8-2) for first place in the Ivy League standings, while Princeton (17-2, 7-2 Ivy) remains only a half a game back in second.
[img_assist|nid=19312|title=Can’t block this|desc=Senior Joanna Weiss (4) goes for a kill during Cornell’s 3-1 victory over Yale this past Friday. (Alex Teney / Sun Staff)|link=popup|align=left|width=87|height=100]
Going into Friday night’s match, the crowd expected the Red to come out fired up and its expectations were not disappointed.
The Red jumped out to a 14-8 lead and the opening game seemed in control. However, the Bulldogs then ran off nine-consecutive points and took the crowd out of the game in the blink of the eye. Cornell would rally and tie it up at 25, but Yale stepped up late taking the first game, 30-26.
Yale’s opening success proved fleeting, as the Red would not lose another game for the rest of the weekend. With the exception of the first point in the third game, Cornell led or was tied with Yale for the remainder of the match en route to its 26-30, 30-24, 30-28, 30-19 victory.
Head coach Deitre Collins-Parker could not have been prouder of her team as it beat the first-place Yale with its emotions clearly running high.
“I am so thrilled,” Collins-Parker said. “That was such a great team effort. We did some things that we hadn’t done all year. Adjustments that we didn’t make earlier in the season, we made. We forced them to have to do other things, and I think that was really good. This time, we knew Yale better than Yale knew Yale.”
Senior Joanna Weiss led the pack with a .667 hitting percentage off 14 kills. Sophomore Hilary Holland and junior co-captain Amy Gordon ran the points very well as they converted on 21 and 37 assists, respectively. Seniors Alaina Town and Alex Dyer did not miss too many chances of their chances, as they tallied 10 and 16 kills, respectively. Then when it was time for a clutch performance to close the match out, senior co-captain Elizabeth Bishop was there to slam the door on Yale. Bishop had a game-high 22 kills for the Red, almost single-handedly taking over the fourth game.
“Elizabeth came through when we needed it most — to finish the match,” Collins-Parker said. “Alex hit really well tonight and made some great plays, but honestly I think Amy set a really good offense. Her choices were great. Obviously, Joanna still has phenomenal numbers and we gave her the ball at the right time. That’s a credit to both setters because they did the right thing. Also, we set Alaina more than we ever set her, and she played really well.”
Weiss was happy to be a part of an emotional win in her senior year at home while hitting .667 in the process.
“I think as a team, we played one of the most coherent games that we have all year,” Weiss said. “This game is all about teamwork for us. I feel when everyone sets up and is encouraging to each other and plays the best that we can, individual percentages just happen. We knew Yale was going to bring it because they wanted to take our championship. We’re going to defend it as hard as we can for as long as we can.”
The fans at Friday’s match provided an extra boost with their raucous support. Collins-Parker claimed that she did not realize how many people were in Newman Arena until the end of the match when she looked back and could not believe her eyes. It was loud the entire time and the Red definitely enjoyed the home atmosphere, especially senior Katie Rademacher.
“The atmosphere was awesome,” Rademacher said. “There were signs up, we were talking to friends all week, and everybody was really excited. I think that helped us out a lot. There was so much energy in here throughout the entire match.”
After that emotional win, the Red had to come back the next day and take on a Brown team looking to get to .500 in conference play. Overall, the Red responded well and swept Brown 30-23, 31-29, 30-23. Bishop, Weiss and Town led the way with 15, 12 and 10 kills, respectively, while freshman Megan Mushovic had an career-high 30 digs.
“A win against Brown means we responded well after the Yale victory,” Collins-Parker said. “It was a little harder than I thought it needed to be, but that’s part of volleyball. I thought we finished strong, and I thought we did some really good things. But obviously Megan having 30 digs is a great number for any age. For her to get it in her first year is awesome.”
One critical point of the match came in the second game with the scored tied at 29 apiece. Collins-Parker decided to roll the dice and substitute junior Kara Zaragoza to serve for Dyer. The Red ended up winning the next two points to capture the second game.
“Kara has a tough serve,” Collins-Parker said. “That’s what she does. She’s very competitive, she’s aggressive, and she came in and did what we knew she could do.”