Progress is progress, even when it comes in small doses. After the volleyball team dropped all three of its matches in last weekend’s season-opening tournament in Kansas, it traveled to the UConn Toyota Classic in Storrs, Conn., and managed to gut out a victory — the team’s first this season — in its final match of the tourney.
“It feels great [to get the first win],” said head coach Deitre Collins-Parker. “Mostly it feels good to see the team play like I know they can play.”
The team had dropped two consecutive matches in the tournament — one to UConn and one to Temple. It took the Red (1-5) some veteran leadership, some fresh talent and all five sets to take down Maine — 25-23, 20-25, 25-23, 15-25, 15-9 — for its first win of the season. Freshman outside hitter Meagan Tatum led the team with a match-high 14 kills, including six in the first set. Tatum, who started the Red’s last two matches of the weekend, had arguably the most impressive tournament among the Red players — her 38 kills over the weekend were the most on the team.[img_assist|nid=31971|title=All hands on deck|desc=Senior setter Hilary Holland (2) jumps for the ball during a 3-0 win over Colmbia on Nov. 5, 2008.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
“She did a really good job just coming on the court and playing,” said junior libero Megan Mushovic. “When she came in she was ready to play. She limited her errors, which she sometime got in trouble with.”
Senior middle blocker Emily Borman had a good match as well. She added 13 kills and hit .500 for the match, including six kills for a .857 percentage in the third set. Senior captain Hillary Holland and Mushovic each added 21 digs to the defensive effort, and Holland helped out with 44 assists for the match.
The gaudy dig totals are partially due to the solid work of the front line, Mushovic said. It was much easier for Mushovic and Holland to rack up the digs when the blockers were slowing hits down first.
Even though it came away with two losses, Cornell also put up good efforts against UConn and Temple.
“We started off struggling a little bit and we were just trying to figure out our lineup,” Collins-Parker said. “We had a good team discussion after our second loss.”
Collins-Parker tried several lineups over the course of the tournament in an effort to find the best combinations of players before the Ivy season starts.
After UConn handed Cornell a 25-16 loss in the first set, the Red rebounded and made two key blocks to take a 27-25 victory in the second set. However, UConn won the third set, 25-16, before riding its momentum to a 25-22 victory in the fourth set to take the match. Tatum led Cornell’s offense with nine kills for the match and Mushovic totaled 27 digs.
Tatum again led the team in kills (15) in the 25-21, 20-25, 18-25, 20-25, loss to Temple. Six of those kills came in the second set, the only frame the Red won.
“Everyone was really motivated,” Tatum said. “Everyone was supportive and we worked as a unit, we were all together.”