September 2, 2008

Volleyball to Increase Depth, Versatility of Players

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Deitre Collins-Parker has seen a lot of success over her collegiate volleyball career. The volleyball head coach was named the national collegiate volleyball player of the year twice in her playing days at the University of Hawaii while leading her team to a 110-5 record and two national titles in her final three seasons. And after being hired to coach the Red in 2004, Collins-Parker won three Ivy League titles in her first four years.
But after a rough 2007 campaign during which the team went 9-16 overall, Collins-Parker and the Red expect to pick themselves up, and return to their customary winning ways in this upcoming 2008 season.
“I definitely think we’re going to rebound really well,” said senior middle blocker Emily Borman. “We have a lot of talent in incoming freshmen and returners.”
Three seniors — Borman, setter Hilary Holland and right side hitter Kathryn Woodbury — will return this season to lead the young, but talented squad.
“We serve as leaders and role models on the team,” Borman said. “We work really hard to pass that on to the incoming freshmen, and maintaining the standard of work ethic that the Cornell volleyball team is known for.”
This year’s squad has six incoming freshmen, all of whom have been praised as versatile players capable of adding to the depth of the team as well as developing into everyday players.[img_assist|nid=31362|title=All together now|desc=Cornell aims to train all of its squad members in every position, so that every rotation is capable of covering the court equally well.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
“The freshmen are looking good, really athletic,” said junior libero Megan Mushovic. “They have a lot of potential.”
This athleticism is important on a team that has emphasized versatility in the offseason.
“Coach has really made it a point this year for all of the players on the team to learn all of the positions on the court,” Borman said.
Last season the team appeared at times to be unbalanced, with strengths at some positions and weaknesses at others. By training the players to learn all positions, this year’s squad is aiming to keep its best seven players on the court at all times, regardless of position.
“Sometimes [last year] we were lacking in some positions,” Mushovic said. This season “we have more depth in our bench.”
Depth and versatility could go a long way towards helping the team to a winning season, but the road ahead is filled with challenges.
The Red faces a tough non-conference schedule beginning with a tournament in Kansas including a marquee matchup with No. 14 ranked Kansas State on Sept. 13.
“It’s just going to be a good competition,” Mushovic said.“It’s going to test us so we can see where our strengths and weaknesses are.”
Coach Collins-Parker has made it a point at Cornell not to shy away from big time competitors. After the tournament in Kansas, Cornell will head to Storrs, Conn., to take on UConn, Temple and Maine in the UConn Toyota Classic.
While it won’t be easy going, the rigorous non-conference lineup should help to prepare the Red for Ivy League play, which begins with a home game against Columbia on Sept. 24.
Despite going 6-8 against the rest of the Ancient Eight in 2007 (Cornell went 12-2 in 2006), the Red has once again set its sights on the Ivy title.
“We’re always aiming for the Ivy title but we have to start with the little things,” Borman said. “It starts in practice. Doing everything right to the best of our abilities in practice is going to translate over into the game. We’re going to show what Cornell can really do… it’s exciting.”