October 4, 2007

Volleyball Braces for Ivy Foes

Print More

The long anticipated first Ivy League weekend is finally here. Tomorrow, the Red (4-6. 1-0 Ivy) will travel to Philadelphia to take on the Penn Quakers (6-6, 0-1 Ivy) then cross the Delaware River and go head-to-head (or set for set) with the Princeton Tigers (9-3, 1-0 Ivy) on Saturday afternoon. The squad is feeling more confident after its first Ivy League win against Columbia last weekend, but the girls know they will have to play even better this weekend against these two talented teams.
“We struggled a lot [in preseason], but we knew it wasn’t going to be easy coming in having such a young team,” said senior Kara Zaragoza. “But now it’s time to really buckle down and put everything we learned in preseason to use. Basically this is what we’ve been building up for.”
The outcome of this weekend could mean the difference between another Ivy League championship or just a solid season. Both Penn and Princeton have experience on their sides but if the Red can minimize errors and play with speed and intensity, neither opponent is unbeatable. According to head coach Deitre Collins-Parker the Red knows the Quakers will be a mature and unusually energetic opponent.
“They start four seniors, and they’ve been together for awhile,” Collins-Parker said. “They’ve been waiting for this year, and they are supposed to be at the top of their game. Hopefully, we’ll be able to block well and get our offense going and do the best we can. They’ve got a lot of weapons right now so we’ve got to play at a high level.“
After a day off on Monday, the team took the remainder of the week watching film of Penn and practicing the best ways to beat them. This includes not just blocking and hitting drills but also a focus on how to counteract Penn’s notoriously loud cheering section and high-energy style of play as well.
“We know they have a lot of energy on the courts so in practice we are trying to pick up our level of energy so when we play them Friday we are able to maintain our level of energy,” Zaragoza said. “They are kind of loud and obnoxious on the court so if you’re losing it’s really hard to play against someone who is cheering in your face. So no matter if we lose or win a point, we are trying to focus on maintaining a consistent level of energy.”
Coach Collins-Parker emphasized that she believes in taking the season one game at a time. So while she has been watching film on Princeton, the girls have been focusing primarily on Penn this week. But that doesn’t mean that the Red isn’t prepared for a difficult match. The Tigers, who narrowly lost the Ivy Championship to the Red last year, has their entire team back with the addition of a senior libero who was not able to play last season.
“Princeton, Yale and Penn are the top-3 teams in our conference right now, in my opinion, with Princeton being at the top,” Collins-Parker said. “They run a really fast offense, and their sophomore outsides are good. They are just a very polished team.”
While the rest of us are relaxing over fall break, the Red will be working to prove that they can compete with the best teams in the Ivy League. Win or lose, the squad aims to walk off the court this weekend knowing it held nothing back.
“Winning is our No. 1 priority but if we want to be able to play strong, play together and work hard all five games, no matter what the outcome,” Zaragoza said. “If we can leave the court with no regrets than that’s awesome. We just want to play our hardest.”