November 12, 2007

Volleyball Splits Games

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Cornell, the defending three-time Ivy champion who will miss the playoffs for the first time in four seasons, concluded its final weekend of the season, losing, 3-1, on Friday to Dartmouth before coming from behind to win a hard-fought, five-game match against Harvard on Saturday night.
The Red ends its 2007 season with a 9-16 overall record, 6-8 against Ivy League opposition.
“It’s kind of surreal I guess,” said head coach Deitre Collins-Parker. “But, we ended the season at least with the [Harvard] win. We wanted to win at Dartmouth, but we competed well. They just got the big points at the end of the game.”
In its first meeting of the season, the Red defeated the Green in what was labeled an upset for the Red. In Friday’s contest, Dartmouth came out strong, winning the first game, 30-25. Cornell came back in Game 2, however, to earn a close, 34-32 victory. Any momentum they seemed to have gained dissipated quickly, and Dartmouth had no trouble winning Game 3, 30-19.
“We came out flat in game three,” Collins-Parker said. “It’s kind of like our season has been so far: up and down. We haven’t been consistent the entire season, and this was pretty evident in that third game.”
Dartmouth ended the match with a 32-30 victory in Game 4. With the exception of the third game, all of the games were tight, with good showings by Cornell players to end the season.
Junior middle blocker Emily Borman continued her end-of-the-season surge, leading Cornell with 18 kills and a .483 hitting percentage. Classmate Katie Woodbury contributed 15 kills and 14 digs at right side hitter. Freshmen outside hitters Katie Marshall and Alessa Cekauskas, the latter of whom has taken advantage of increased playing time recently, combined for 31 kills, while sophomore libero Megan Mushovic continued to impress on defense, once again recording over 30 digs with her final tally of 31.
Cornell had already beaten Harvard once before coming into Saturday’s contest. But Collins-Parker said the team was careful to avoid becoming over-confident.
“I don’t know that we have played well enough this season to ‘expect’ anything,” she said.
And in fact, the Red came out very flat in the beginning of the match, allowing the Crimson to win the first two games in a row, thrilling the home crowd on hand for Senior Night.
Undaunted, Cornell did not quit. In three very close games, Cornell proved it was indeed capable of digging in and coming up big in a tight spot: it won the next three games, 30-26, 30-28 and 19-17 to take the contest.
“We almost gave it way,” Collins-Parker said, after Cornell threw away a 13-8 lead on errors in Game 5.
Junior setter Hillary Holland has been too sick during the first four games to even suit up in her uniform. But before Game 5, she told her coach she wanted to go in and so Collins-Parker put her in on defense.
“She made a huge difference for us,” Collins-Parker said. “She had some crucial defensive plays.”
The team’s two seniors, setter and captain Amy Gordon and defensive specialist Kara Zaragoza, played the entire match, ending their Cornell careers on a relative high note. Gordon had 58 assists, 17 digs and seven blocks. Zaragoza contributed another 14 digs. Emily Borman has another good game, with 18 kills, nine block assists and a .333 hitting percentage.
“We really appreciate Amy and Kara’s contribution and they’ll really be missed,” Collins-Parker said.
On the long bus ride home, Collins-Parker said the team had a little time to debrief.
“We do know we’re better [than we were this season], but we had a chance to reflect on all the good things we did this season,” she said.