September 15, 2008

Volleyball Drops Three Against Practiced Foes

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The volleyball team got its first taste of competition over the weekend and by looking only at the result — three losses and no wins — you might think it left a bitter aftertaste. But while the win-loss column might not reflect it, the team thinks that the tournament in Manhattan, Kan., was valuable to the season as a whole.
“It was definitely a positive experience for us,” said senior right side hitter Kathryn Woodbury. “We got to play some really good competition.”
The competition was headlined by No. 19 Kansas St. (10-1), which defeated the Red (0-3) in three sets in Cornell’s second match of the tournament, 25-19, 25-17, 25-9. Against the Wildcats, junior middle blocker Juliana Rogers notched 10 kills and eight digs. Sophomore outside hitter Erin McCarthy added eight kills and senior captain Hilary Holland had 23 assists and six digs.[img_assist|nid=31713|title=Smacking down|desc=Senior middle blocker Emily Borman shows her skills above the net.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
Kansas St. was the eventual winner of the tournament, besting the Liberty Lady Flames in four sets for the title, 25-10, 22-25, 25-22, 25-12. The Wildcats were led by outside hitter Rita Liliom, the tournament MVP, with 18 kills and a .325 hitting percentage. Over the weekend, she averaged 4.6 kills per set.
The Lady Flames provided Cornell with its only set win of the weekend. Cornell fell in four sets to Liberty in the first match of the tournament, 25-16, 25-21, 17-25, 26-24. Although Liberty already had seven matches under its belt on the season, Cornell stormed out to leads in a few sets, including a 15-10 advantage in the second set. But Liberty’s experience proved valuable in the end, as they eventually came back to win that set.
Rogers and McCarthy both posted solid matches; Rogers notched 16 kills and McCarthy added 10 kills and 10 digs.
In the Red’s final match of the weekend, the team fought a back-and-forth affair with Northern Iowa but ultimately fell in straight sets, 25-21, 25-12, 25-23.
Despite the losses, Woodbury said she felt good about the progress the team made in its first game action of the year.
“I was really surprised with how well everyone communicated together,” Woodbury said. “Defensively we were really scrappy. We worked well together.”
Junior libero Megan Mushovic led the defense with 51 digs on the weekend, and was named to the all-tournament team as a result of her efforts.
Because of Ivy League regulations, the volleyball team was not able to practice or play other schools until later than other colleges across the country, resulting in a lack of experience early in the season.
“For any Ivy League team … the teams we’re playing are in their eighth and tenth games, so it’s hard to figure things out,” Woodbury said. “Mostly I think we went in there trying to focus on how we play as a team. It’s a factor but it’s not something we can’t overcome.”
But the tough schedule is something every Ivy team must deal with, and head coach Deitre Collins-Parker wants to make sure her team gets every opportunity to test itself, thus the rigorous competition in the preseason.
“We’re looking forward to getting started with the [Ivy] play but we’ve got some tournaments we have to focus on first,” Woodbury said.