September 24, 2007

Volleyball Swept on West Coast

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The volleyball team went to California dreaming of one last momentum and confidence booster before launching itself into conference play next weekend. But in the end, the dreams were just that, as the team lost to Saint Mary’s 3-0 on Friday, and was swept again on Saturday, losing to San Francisco 3-0.
With the losses, Cornell moved to 3-6 for the season, while Saint Mary’s and San Francisco moved to 7-4 and 11-5, respectively.
After a fairly disappointing performance at last weekend’s American Invitational, the team was hoping to find some last-minute encouragement this weekend. However, the Red had no illusions about the strengths of both the California squads. Saint Mary’s and San Francisco are not pushovers, a point that was hammered home in the weekend’s matches.
“I think that [Saint Mary’s and San Francisco] were just bigger, more athletic and faster than us,” head coach Deitre Collins-Parker said.
But Collins-Parker said she doesn’t regret setting Cornell against tough preseason opponents.
“I think it’s better to play faster and more athletic teams early. Now we’ve seen what it can be like. I think that many of the teams in the Ivy League would have lost to the teams we lost to.”
Both matches followed a similar pattern, with each of the respective three games very comparable in tempo and momentum swings, but in the end, the only similar thing that mattered was where Cornell fell in the wins and losses column.
“I feel like we could have played a little harder for longer periods of time,” Collins-Parker said.
In the first game against Saint Mary’s, Cornell’s opponents started strong, scoring the game’s first six points in a row. It was clear that they had come ready to play, and had a much faster pace than the Red. The Gaels quickly and easily won that game 30-11, with serving runs in particular being a major factor in the quick start.
In the second game Cornell played smarter and tried to match Saint Mary’s pace. Despite the Gaels’ early 6-1 lead, the Red fought back to tie the game at 16 apiece. Then the game got really competitive, with the teams matching each other point for point, until Cornell actually pulled in front, 19-18, and then 27-24 lead.
But Saint Mary’s managed to kill Cornell’s momentum with the help of its freshman outside hitter Megan York. Saint Mary’s hit .326 for the game, compared to Cornell’s -.105 percent.
The Gaels were seemingly unstoppable in the final game of the match, jumping out to a 6-0 lead and never looking back, despite Cornell’s attempts to cool them down. The Gaels’ recorded a .414 hitting percentage while frustrating the Cornell offense, who ended the game with -.061.
“In the Saint Mary’s game, I wasn’t really happy with any of the player’s performances,” Collins- Parker said.
Unfortunately for Cornell, Saturday’s first game mirrored Friday’s first. San Francisco opened the game with an early 10-6 lead, before breaking it wide open to win 30-11. The Dons had the advantage in hitting percentage, -.136 – .406.
In the second game, Cornell made an effort to adjust, and opened its own early lead at 10-7. But this was not enough to stop the Dons, who tied the game up, starting off a head-to-head points battle, with no team getting the upper hand until the score was tied at 23. Then San Francisco pulled away to finally win the game, 30-27.
With echoes of the previous evening no doubt still fresh in its mind, Cornell still allowed San Francisco to capitalize on their second game’s momentum, just as Saint Mary’s had done. Saint Mary’s had done. The Dons jumped out to another early lead at 10-3 which would prove insurmountable for the Red, as San Francisco went on to quickly secure the win at 30-10, while hitting .607 percent.
The Dons held the match advantage in kills, 47-25, and digs, 52-28. They ended the match with an average hitting percentage of .385, while Cornell finished with .000. It was San Francisco’s second straight victory over the Red.
“The defense really steeped up their game after nobody played well against Saint Mary’s,” Collins-Parker said. “We’re young and we have to play better than we have. Our goal [for the weekend] was that we learn from each game.”
The Red will begin Ivy League competition this Sunday at Columbia.
“It’s important to play teams that are above level,” Collins-Parker said. “We can compete [with upper level teams] we just didn’t sustain it. Those are positive things.”