September 10, 2007

Volleyball Wins Two at Cornell Invitational

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The volleyball team started off the Cornell Invitational on a high note, sweeping its first two opponents Niagara and Bucknell, 3-0, and 3-1, respectively, to the raucous approval of the crowd on Friday. But Saturday proved more difficult, as the team lost both contests, losing to Siena, 3-1, and then fighting hard, but eventually succumbing to Montreal, 3-2, later that night.
Niagara didn’t carry a single game, going down 30-26, 30-23, although it put up a fight at the end of the third game before finally losing in overtime, 37-35. Bucknell dropped the first game, 30-25, but came back to carry the next one, beating the Red, 30-25. Cornell then roared back, winning the next two games, 30-13 and 30-28, to carry the match. Head coach Dietre Collins-Parker was all praise regarding Friday’s play.
“Obviously, I’m thrilled,” Collins-Parker said. “I came in with no expectations. I couldn’t tell what level we were at in practice and we really stepped up and did a good job.”
One of the biggest stories of the tournament was the aggressive and confident play of the team’s younger members. Freshman outside hitter Erin McCarthy led the team Friday afternoon in kills, recording 16 against Niagara.
In the second match of the day, it was another freshman outside hitter’s turn to shine, as Katie Marshall notched a team-leading 19 kills along with 5 blocks. McCarthy had another good performance as well, adding another 16 kills to go along with a .293 hitting percentage.[img_assist|nid=24295|title=Spike it|desc=Junior Emily Borman — who recorded a career-best 17 kills on Saturday against Siena — goes for a spike during the Red’s 3-1 win over Bucknell on Friday.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
Sophomore middle blocker Juliana Rogers set personal records in kills and block assists against Bucknell, while also hitting an impressive .533 percent. Senior captain Amy Gordon rounded out a day of strong personal performances with a team-leading 40 assists.
“[Juliana Rogers] has been steady since her first day of practice,” Parker-Collins said. “She did everything that we needed a middle to do. So I was really, really happy to see her step up.”
But despite the strong individual numbers, Collins-Parker emphasized the importance of team play over personal statistics.
“We couldn’t of won if we hadn’t been a cohesive unit,” she said. “The trademark to me of who Cornell is, is that we are the epitome of a team. And we are going to beat you because we play as a team. We’re not going to beat you because we have one outstanding person, because we don’t.”
In the first match of Saturday’s play, Cornell faced off against a very strong opponent in Siena. The Saints dropped the first game, 23-30, before coming back to win the next three, 3-25, 30-25 and 30-27.
Cornell put up some impressive numbers as well, despite its opponent’s dominance. Junior middle blocker Emily Borman, who made the weekend’s all-tournament team, claimed a career-best 17 kills, while hitting .727 percent. The freshmen outside duo of McCarthy and Marshall had another great game, combining for 25 total kills; Rogers also hit .643 with 10 kills. Junior setter Hilary Holland recorded 43 assists, a career high.
Marshall, who had a team-leading 19 kills against Montreal, said that one of the reasons why the team failed to win Saturday was its communication.
“We were just on a rollercoaster,” she said. “But I think we did a lot of good things this weekend. We were really intense and we had our moments where we were shining, but then we had some mental lapses.”
Despite the implications of having to play four games in two days, Collins-Parker downplayed fatigue as a factor in the second day’s losses.
“Physically condition wise, we were O.K.,” she said. “I think we could have won that game just as easy as we lost it. I don’t think we ran out of gas.”
The Red served up 11 service aces against Montreal, but Collins-Parker still included serving on her list of things the team will need to work on, along with blocking and setting.
“My list is very long,” she said. “But we’re a young team so it’s supposed to be. We’re just still learning. We’ve learned a lot this weekend, and we’ve got a long ways to go. But I do think both Siena and Montreal are bigger and stronger than we are and we competed well with teams that are physically superior.”