August 20, 2007

Two Seniors Look to Lead Freshmen

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It’s that time again. The volleyball squad is working out the kinks and taking stock of itself as the preseason wraps up and Cornell’s Ivy opponents loom.
With three straight Ivy League titles, and two straight NCAA appearances, the Red will again be led by head coach Deitre Collins-Parker. Collins-Parker decided to return to Cornell after a short stint as an assistant coach at the University of Georgia during the off season.
In three years under Collins-Parker, Cornell is 54-24, playing under her system of team unity, sacrifice and realism.
Collins-Parker’s realism comes after a the graduation of five seniors, including All-American Elizabeth Bishop ’07.
Now, senior captain Amy Gordon, a setter, will try to integrate a large freshmen class, without losing the maturity and seamlessness needed to compete against older and more seasoned squads.
The squad’s only other senior, defensive specialist Kara Zaragoza, joins five sophomores and four juniors.
Gordon will be joined at the setter position by junior Hilary Holland, who started last year, and has put up strong numbers in both of Cornell’s preseason invitationals.
“The setters are the quarterbacks of our team,” Collins-Parker said. “They run the offense. Hilary runs the middles better, and Amy sets a more consistent ball outside, so it’s whatever we need at the time, between those two.”
Collins-Parker said that the ideal situation would be for the team to become consistent enough in their passing game that they could run a 6-2 offense, in which both Holland and Gordon could play at the same time.
“They both have been invaluable to our team,” Collins-Parker said. “Amy has been a fantastic leader, so she needs to be on the court. But Hilary has really emerged as a leader too, and she’s a little but feistier than Amy. It’s kind of fun to seee both those personalities together.”
Junior Emily Borman and and sophomore Juliana Rogers will both look to draw on their experiences last year backing up senior starters as they look to fill the position of middle blocker this year.
So far this year Borman has put up some good numbers and was named to the Cornell Invitational All-Tournament team. Rogers has also performed well, however, with steady and consistent play for a sophomore.
“They both can block better,” Collins-Parker said. “And they know that I would say that. They need to step up in that area—we won’t be successful if our mids aren’t functional. They are very important to our success.”
Freshmen Kelly Karmann and Jen Keane have are ready to step in as well if needed, according to Collins-Parker.
The position where freshmen have really made their presence felt is the outside of the front line. The freshmen duo of Katie Marshall and Erin McCarthy has consitently led the team so far in kills and both consistently post high hitting percentages.
Junior Kathryn Woodbury will return to the position on the right side, after being named last year’s most improved player and recording the most kills of a non-senior. In addition, freshmen Kela Fitzgerald, Alessa Cekauskas and Izzy Pines all fill out the line.
“I think that our offense was the thing that was most up in the air,” Gordon said. “And they’ve been doing phenomenal.”
The defensive line will be headed by two sophomores and a senior: Stephanie Comon, Megan Mushovic and Kara Zaragoza, respectively.
Libero Mushovic distinguished herself last year, taking the Ivy Leaguer of the week three times.
“When [all of the defensive speicalists] are playing defense, they really rely on the blocks being consistent,” Collins-Parker said. “Because they have to read and then be where the block isn’t.”
This pertains escpecially to Mushovic playing in the center of the line.
“[Mushovic] is getting a better understanding of her own team,” Collins-Parker said. “The better that Kara, Steph and Meghan work together, the better we are. I really feel like Kara and Steph have stepped a lot so our defense is going to be a real big part of who we are.
“It’s knowing that we have the three of them back there that we really get better, and that they’ve become interchangeable. It’s huge for us to have that flexibility.”