October 23, 2007

Volleyball Renews In-State Rivalry With Orange

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The volleyball team has had better weeks. Despite past Ivy successes, last weekend found the Red again in the loss column, dropping matches to Yale and Brown. Tomorrow, however, is another day. Cornell will face off again, this time against in-state rival and Big East powerhouse Syracuse, in a match that promises to be a tough, but a potentially valuable, opportunity for the Red.
With the losses on Friday and Saturday, Cornell drops to 6-11 overall and 3-4 in the Ivy League. Currently the Orange will be looking to continue the success it has found as it wraps up an eight game home stand. Syracuse has a 4-2 record over the first six games of the series.
“[Syracuse] plays in a tougher conference and it’s a big school so there tends to be more options,” said head coach Dietre Collins-Parker. “They have a richer history, let’s put it that way.”
Syracuse is also coming off back-to-back wins against conference opponent Marquette and Long Island. In their match against Long Island on Sunday, Orange senior Cheryl Cobbina and sophomore Kacie McTavish both posted double-doubles for the squad. Junior April Quigley helped power the Orange’s offense with a match-high 45 assists.
Syracuse is also hoping to continue its perfect 5-0 record against opponents from the state of New York.
The history between Syracuse and Cornell dates back three decades to 1974. Currently, Syracuse holds the advantage at 25-9-1.
The two teams last squared off on Oct. 24 of last year. Cornell snapped its 10-match losing streak against the Orange, upsetting Syracuse, 3-0.
“It was huge that we beat Syracuse,” Collins-Parker said. “What that Cornell team was, was perfect last year [to beat Syracuse].”
Playing games against non-Ivy teams deep in the season is not required and it has its advantages and disadvantages. On one hand, playing teams at schools with larger programs than Cornell is good competition and forces the squad to play at a consistently high level. But on the other hand, Cornell wants to be careful not to over-exert any of its players and have to play their next Ivy opponents with key players watching, injured on the sidelines.
“We tend to rest key players because it isn’t an Ivy match,”
Collins-Parker said. “This, of course is a great opportunity for younger players who don’t usually get a lot of playing minutes.
I do hope to get some freshmen in,” Collins-Parker said.
During the course of the season, Collins-Parker said that it could be hard to try new things because there is never any room to test them out. The Syracuse match offers that opportunity to experiment a little without the pressure of the Ivy title chase hanging over them. But, she did caution.
“No matter what,” Collins-Parker said. “I want to win. That is the most important thing.”
In general, the Syracuse match is a good time to stop and evaluate how the season is going so far and how the team is developing and maturing.
“Syracuse is always a good gauge for us to see where we are,” she said. “They always keep you at the top of your game.”
This weekend the Red will return to Ivy play with a match at home against Princeton.
“My expectation is that we play well,” Collins-Parker said. “No matter what happens you want the conference to know the future looks good for Cornell.”