September 26, 2008

Red Gets Last Tune-up, Begins Ivy Play

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With one day — and one practice — left before the beginning of the Ivy season, the volleyball team is focusing its attention inward in an attempt to shore up any team weaknesses before shifting its concentration to this weekend’s opponents. Cornell will face Robert Morris (8-4) tomorrow morning followed by a matchup with Columbia (5-2) that night.
The Red (1-6) has had a long rough go in non-conference play thus far. The team traveled to Kansas earlier in the semester and was swept by admittedly tough opponents. Then, last weekend, the squad went 1-2 at the UConn Classic. In its final game in Conneticut, against Maine, Cornell was finally able to come up with a much-needed win, only to end up back in the loss column after Wednesday’s 3-0 home loss to Syracuse.
[img_assist|nid=32123|title=Get back here|desc=Junior Juliana Rogers is one of a few people the Red has tried out at the outside hitter position this year.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
“We had a tough game [against Syracuse],” said head coach Deitre Collins-Parker. “They’ve all been tough games.”
The team needed to have a good practice yesterday and “a good practice today,” according to senior captain Hilary Holland.
Robert Morris and Columbia, on the other hand, are traveling to Ithaca with winning records. Collins-Parker, though, didn’t want to speculate too much about their abilities.
“You can’t really judge them off their schedule,” she said, referring to RMU. About Columbia she said only, “They seem to be much improved. They’ve played an OK schedule. It’s hard to judge.”
Collins-Parker directed the conversation back to Cornell.
“Right now, our focus is just on us,” she said. “We have to be playing at a good level for us before I give any concern to what the other team is doing.”
Cornell struggled against the block Wednesday night and was consistently overpowered by the larger Syracuse front line. Collins-Parker said that blocking would definitely be something the team would be working on in practice.
“[We’re going to] work on the big block,” Collins-Parker said. “We still need to do better in that situation.”
Other areas Cornell will be hurrying to perfect for tomorrow include attacking the net more aggressively, and in getting better play out of the outside hitter position, Collins-Parker said.
The outside hitter position has varied significantly this season, as the Red coaching staff has been rotatinplayers around in a search for the best possible lineup. Junior Juliana Rogers, who has played at middle blocker in the past, has been moved several times this season to the outside.
“[Juliana’s] been the most consistent there so far … She’s done a good job in that position,” Collins-Parker said. “Basically, at [outside hitter] we’re still very young.”
Youth has factored into other aspects of Cornell’s game in ways the leadership might wish it would not.
“Overall, we’ve been making way too many errors,” Collins-Parker said. “Errors are usually a sign of youth. We have to play older than we are right now.”
In general, Holland said the team needs to concentrate on “making better decision with the ball. We need to improve what we do on our side of the net.”
“We need to be conscious of the errors we make in practice,” Holland added. “It doesn’t have to be perfect; it just needs to not be an error.”
Practicing different game scenarios in real time can help develop this type of volleyball intelligence, as well as never losing awareness of the action happening on all sides of the court.
“I think we need to respond better to teams,” said junior libero Megan Mushovic. “We’re used to our own type of play, but we need to be able to adjust to different styles.”