November 10, 2006

Volleyball Tries for Ivy Title

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The volleyball team will wrap up its regular season this weekend as it faces Penn and Princeton with a chance to secure at least a portion of the Ivy League title. Since the Red controls its own destiny, all the spikers will have to focus on is winning these two games while letting the other pieces of the Ivy League puzzle fall into place.

Currently, Cornell (16-8, 10-2 Ivy) leads the Ivy League standings by a half a game over Princeton (19-2, 9-2) while Yale (14-7, 9-3) trails Cornell by a full game. Thus, Yale is going to need some help from Cornell and Princeton if it is going to have a shot at the postseason. For the record Yale will host Dartmouth (11-11, 5-7) and Harvard (10-13, 4-8) in New Haven, Conn. Princeton will face Columbia (7-15, 1-11) Friday night in Manhattan before traveling up I-81 to Ithaca.

If Princeton wins out this weekend, then the Tigers’ Wednesday night game at home against Penn (10-12, 5-6) will all of a sudden be the marquee game of the week, with a victory giving the Tigers sole possession of the conference crown should Cornell post a 1-1 record this weekend.

Of course, that is just one possible scenario for this playoff race. A possibility still exists where Cornell, Princeton and Yale all finish the season with a share of the Ivy League title. Still, with all of these possibilities out there, head coach Deitre Collins-Parker wants her girls to solely focus on the task at hand — winning.

“It is going to be an extremely exciting weekend,” Collins-Parker said. “We have been playing our best volleyball and hopefully we are peaking at the right time. I think it will be really fun to watch. Also, Saturday night will be the last time that we get to see the seniors in action.”

Cornell will hope send its five seniors out in winning fashion, as this core of veterans has played an integral role in bringing about a renaissance in Red volleyball. Co-captain Elizabeth Bishop is currently second in the league with 4.44 kills per game, and was recenttly named to the ESPN The Magazine

Academic All-District I second team. Joanna Weiss is second in the league with a .404 hitting percentage. Alex Dyer, the former Seton Hall star out of the Big East, is ninth in the league with 3.48 kills per game while Alaina Town, a former walk-on, is fourth in the league with a .320 hitting percentage. Then throw in Katie Rademacher’s league-leading 1.37 blocks per game on defense and Collins-Parker has an impressive veteran lineup to look to for leadership on the court this weekend.

“I think they’re excited about these final two games,” Collins-Parker said. “I think they’ll handle it fine. It’s much easier to handle pressure when you are home and just ready to play instead of being on the road and having to deal with adversity.”

The last time Cornell faced Penn, it posted a 3-0 sweep on the road with game scores of 30-26, 31-29, and 30-18. However, against Princeton, it was a different story. The Tigers handed the Red its second Ivy League loss of the season with a 30-29, 30-23, 27-30, 30-25 game count.

“After watching the tape against Princeton, I think we have the ability to dominate the match if we play well,” Collins-Parker said. “We made errors that gave that match away, so we just need to play good volleyball.”

The Red has won seven consecutive matches, but in order for the team members to rest peacefully in their dorms and houses after Saturday’s match, their winning streak needs to be nine.