With a pair of important victories over Yale and Brown this past weekend to extend its winning streak to five matches, the Cornell volleyball team (14-8, 8-2 Ivy) moved into a first place tie in the Ivy League standings with the Bulldogs with just four league games remaining.
Not surprising, it has been the Red’s collection of five seniors that has set the tone of the team’s recent surge. Already one of the most prolific classes to play on East Hill, the seniors now have their squad primed for a run at a third consecutive league title and second consecutive NCAA tournament appearance.
“Depending on how they finish this year, it is arguable that they have accomplished more than any other class for Cornell volleyball,” said head coach Deitre Collins-Parker. “Either way, they are definitely up there at the top.”
In describing the impact that the Class of 2007 has had on the Cornell program, there is no better place to start than with the tremendous career of senior outside hitter Elizabeth Bishop.
An honorable mention All-American and Ivy League Player of the Year in 2005, Bishop will graduate from Cornell as the program’s all-time leader in kills and kills per game. Now a co-captain, Bishop has continued her reign as one of the Ivy League’s premier players into the 2006 season. Currently, she leads the Red with 4.37 kills per game and is second on the team with 2.61 digs per contest.
[img_assist|nid=19498|title=Rain maker|desc=Senior middle blocker Joanna Weiss (4) spikes a ball into the Yale defense in the Red’s 3-1 win over the Bulldogs on Oct. 27 inside Newman Arena.|link=popup|align=left|width=100|height=99]
Bishop has benefited from playing alongside one of the most intimidating middle blockers in the Ivy League, classmate Joanna Weiss. The 6’4” Weiss will also leave her imprint in the Cornell record books, as she should graduate as the school’s all-time leader in attack percentage. She is tops on the team this season with a .415 hitting percentage and is second in blocks per game with 1.32.
Meanwhile, fellow seniors Alex Dyer, Alaina Town and Katie Rademacher have also each made major contributions to the program, especially this season. A junior transfer from Seton Hall, Dyer played in a limited role a year ago before exploding onto the scene this year by averaging 3.30 kills per game — good enough for second on the team behind Bishop.
At the same time, Town has emerged as one of the most efficient outside hitters for the Red. After recovering from an early season injury, she has averaged 2.44 kills per game and has earned the second-best attack percentage on the team at .328. Lastly, Rademacher is one of the most feared blockers on the squad. Currently, she leads the Ivy League with 1.45 blocks per game.
“[The seniors] are really the heart and soul of what the team is,” Collins-Parker said. “They contribute so much … After three years of building confidence and gaining an understanding of the game ,they have all turned into incredible players each with a different strength that they bring to the team.”
The coach also described how the class has been the catalyst for the Red’s recent run to the top of the Ivy League standings. In fact, in the game against first-place Yale this past weekend, the seniors were responsible for 69 of the Red’s 76 kills and 16 of the team’s 20 total blocks.
“They have stepped up a lot these last two weeks,” Collins-Parker said. “They have developed their own personality as a class and really stepped up this year.”