November 6, 2006

Spikers Post Sweep

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With a pair of important road victories over Harvard, 3-2, and Dartmouth, 3-1, this weekend, the volleyball team took sole possession of first place atop the Ivy League standings and now controls its own destiny in the team’s bid for a second consecutive NCAA tournament appearance.

“It feels great to be in the driver’s seat,” said senior co-captain Elizabeth Bishop. “We now have a strong shot at winning the conference.”

Though the weekend ended well for the Red (16-9, 10-2 Ivy), it began in disastrous fashion as Cornell dropped its first two games against the Crimson (10-13, 4-8) on Friday.

[img_assist|nid=19637|title=Throwing down|desc=Senior Elizabeth Bishop (12) had a combined 45 kills and 30 digs in wins over Harvard and Dartmouth this weekend.|link=popup|align=left|width=66|height=100]

Harvard dominated the entire first game, cruising to a 30-21 win. In the second game, Cornell appeared to be in prime position after opening up an 8-2 lead. Nevertheless, the Crimson, aided by 12-3 run later in the match, would go on to win the game, 30-27.
From that point on, Cornell dominated the match, taking the next three games 30-24, 30-22 and 15-7 to pull off the tremendous comeback victory.

“We really started off slow, but we picked it up and were very pleased with the last three games,” Bishop said. “Its always tough to come back on the road.”

“It was great to see our team bounce back after not starting well,” said junior co-captain Amy Gordon. “Looking back, it was really a positive to see our team do that — we wouldn’t let [the loss] happen.”

A key to the comeback was the large improvement in Cornell’s hitting between the first two games and the last three. The Red had an attack percentage of just .141 in the losses while managing a .246 attack percentage in the games it won. Meanwhile, in comparison, the Crimson managed a meager .078 attack percentage in the last three games of the match.

“We just started clicking,” Bishop said. “We made good passes and committed less errors. We got in a rhythm and played really well.”
Bishop led all Cornell attackers with 23 kills, while classmate Alex Dyer added 20 of her own. Senior Alaina Town also put together an impressive performance at the net with 11 kills and six blocks. Gordon collected 52 assists for the night while freshman libero Megan Mushovic led the team with 24 digs.

Using its momentum from the day before, Cornell came roaring out of the gates the next day at Dartmouth (11-11, 5-7), taking the first two games by scores of 30-26 and 30-19. In the second game, the Red put together one if its finest hitting performances of the season, earning a .541 attack percentage on 23 kills and just three errors.
Though suffering a minor setback as the Green clawed out a 31-29 win in the third game, the Red easily took the next game, 30-23, to clinch the match.

Dyer and Bishop led the Cornell attack with 26 and 22 kills, respectively. As usual, senior middle blocker Joanna Weiss was also a force at the net, picking up nine kills and six blocks.

Paired with Yale’s loss to Princeton on Friday, the Red’s weekend success moves the team one complete game ahead of the Bulldogs in the league standings. Now, all that stands in Cornell’s way for a third consecutive Ivy title are contests against Penn and Princeton at home this upcoming weekend.

However, collecting victories in those two games should be no easy task for the Red — especially against Princeton, which is the only other team with just two Ivy losses and sits just a half-game behind Cornell in the league standings.

“We’ve got to take it just one game at a time,” Bishop said. “We have Penn first on Friday and then we can concentrate on Princeton after that. We’re exactly where we want to be right now.”