September 25, 2008

Volleyball Loses Home Opener

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The Red came out of the gate firing in its 2008 home opener, but Syracuse responded quickly and efficiently and ultimately bested Cornell, 25-22, 25-18, 25-20.
The first set was the most heavily contested of the match; at times, Cornell (1-6) enjoyed leads of as many as five points, but Syracuse seemed never to fade away. The set started as a quick back-and-forth affair with both teams trading points won on relatively short rallies.
Cornell won the first long rally of the game to move ahead, 5-4. Some nice hitting from junior middle blocker Juliana Rogers put the Red ahead, 9-6, before an ace from senior captain Hilary Holland gave the team a four-point lead. Cornell’s largest lead came after senior right side Kathryn Woodbury hit two nice shots in a row to put the Red up, 14-9. The Syracuse defense, however, then found its groove.
[img_assist|nid=32084|title=Jump for my love|desc=Alessa Cekauskas (6), Emily Borman (15) and the Red couldn’t keep up with the active Syracuse offense.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
“Syracuse is the best blocking team that we’ve played this year,” said head coach Deitre Collins-Parker. “They actually played a lot better today than I thought they did in their videos.”
Suddenly none of the Red hitters could seem to find a hole in Syracuse’s defense — Orange players managed to get a limb on every hit to give their team a second chance. Collins-Parker called a time-out when Syracuse closed the deficit to one point, 17-16, and the Orange took the lead two points later on an error from freshman setter Jordan Reeder.
Two booming hits from 6-4 freshman middle blocker Kelly Hansen brought the lead back to the home team, but Syracuse tied it up at 21 and shut down the Red for the rest of the set.
“I thought we started off the match well then Syracuse responded and we didn’t really respond back,” Holland said.
The second set was more of the same: Orange blockers gave Red hitters fits, while Cornell’s own defense was shaky and seemed out of place at times. Syracuse stormed out to a 5-1 lead and never looked back.
The only hitting success Cornell found was off of Holland’s low sets that disrupted the Syracuse defense’s timing, but even that couldn’t last.
“Syracuse’s middle blocker made some good adjustments,” Holland said. “When we were passing well [the low sets were] working, but then our passing broke down so we had to go away from that.”
Cornell’s hitters found a rhythm in the beginning of the third set, and the two teams battled to an 8-8 stalemate before Syracuse took the lead again after a long rally that ended when junior libero Megan Mushovic couldn’t recover a hard-hit spike.
Syracuse pulled away late in the set and closed it out by a final score of 25-20 despite a last-minute rally from Cornell that drew heavy cheering from the Red bench.
Hansen (eight kills for a .357 hitting percentage) and Rogers (with a team-high 14 kills) provided most of the Red offense, while Holland added 32 assists. Cornell actually had more kills than Syracuse, 45 compared to the Orange’s 32, but errors doomed the Red. Cornell had 25 mishits and eight service errors, compared to just eight by Syracuse.
Many of those mistakes came from Red players trying to do too much to get the ball past Syracuse’s solid blockers.
“We’re just not balanced enough yet in our attack,” Collins-Parker said. “Our youngsters have to get better.”