November 5, 2007

Volleyball Splits Two Five-Set Matches

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Cornell split its home double-header this weekend, but not the way most fans would have predicted. The Red dropped its first match, 3-2, against Brown (6-14, 4-6 Ivy). Then Cornell came back to win its Saturday match, 3-2, against Yale, snapping a six-match win streak that had propelled the Bulldogs to the upper level of the Ivy League. After the weekend, Cornell moves to 7-14 (5-6).
“We played good at times [against Brown],” said head coach Deitre Collins-Parker. “[Brown] is the kind of team that we don’t match up well against. They’ve been known to upset people a lot.”
It was a very close match, with both teams battling for points up until the end of game five. The first game of the match was a fairly even contest that was tied at 28 when Cornell grabbed the final two points to take the game. Brown came back to tie the contest at one game apiece, easily winning Game 2, 30-19. The Bears capitalized on their Game 2 momentum to come out strong in the third game, running up an 11-3 lead.
Cornell did not quit, however, tying the game at 18 and matching Brown point for point up until finally Brown broke through to prevail, 33-31.
Not to be outdone, Cornell battled back to avoid elimination, winning Game 4, 30-23, to force a decisive fifth game. Although Cornell found itself behind early in the last game, the squad came back to tie it at 11. That marked the end of the Red’s scoring, though, as it lost the game, 15-11, and the match 3-2.
Brown is a smaller team than Cornell, according to Collins-Parker, and it use its small size as an advantage.
“They hit lower,” she said. “They’re scrappy and they just kind of throw things at you in a different way.”
Collins-Parker said that Brown’s unconventional style took Cornell off-guard.
“We’re just not disciplined enough to counteract a more untraditional type of play,” she said.
Cornell was able to put up some impressive numbers in the match, regardless of the final outcome.
Freshmen outside hitters Katie Marshall and Alessa Cekauskas combined for 37 kills. Senior defensive specialist Kara Zaragoza came up with a season-high 14 digs as well as two aces. Senior setter Amy Gordon was just one block away from a triple-double, with 58 assists, 19 digs and nine blocks. Juniors Emily Borman and Kathryn Woodbury also had impressive starts for the Red.
“We had some really great numbers,” Collins-Parker said. The fact that Borman and Woodbury especially had such a good weekend is really exciting because of what is means for the team’s future, Collins-Parker said. “We’re getting better in the areas that we need to.”
Saturday was Cornell’s second-to-last home match, and so the team took some time before the game to honor its two seniors, Gordon and Zaragoza. Maybe this boosted the team’s confidence or maybe it was the support of the loud home crowd, but Cornell came out ready to play.
The Red opened the first game with a quick lead that materialized into a 30-27 win. Yale regained some of its own confidence in Game 2, jumping out to its own lead at 10-3 and winning the game easily 30-19.
The third game proved to be more evenly matched, with both teams battling back and forth for points.
After a tie at 25, both teams took turns snatching the lead, but an error by Yale at the end ultimately decided the game in favor of Cornell. Yale did not let game three discourage their efforts, though, winning Game 4, again by a score of 30-19.
Cornell scored the first two points of the fifth game before Yale surged back to within three points of victory at 12-5.
With the crowd urging them on, Cornell would not give up, pulling within four of the stalled Bulldogs.
Tied at 13, Yale was the next to score a point, bringing them to the brink of victory, but big performances from Gordon, Borman and Marshall, among others, set the team up with the lead, which sophomore libero Meghan Mushovic sealed with a service ace to take the match in dramatic fashion.
“It almost felt like we had won the championship,” Collins-Parker said of the victory and ensuing celebration. “It just really felt good. We’ve had a rivalry with Yale for a while.”
Both the seniors came up big in the win. “[Zaragoza and Gordon] played huge roles in the win. They just made up their minds that they didn’t want to lose,” she said. “Kara really helped us get to where we needed to be in [Game 5].”