October 10, 2008

No Rest for Volleyball, Will Compete Over Break

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Most Cornellians will probably spend their Fall Breaks catching up on some sleep at home or hanging around Ithaca. The volleyball team will be in the latter group, but the players shouldn’t expect to relax too much — they’re playing three matches in just five days.
The Red (3-8, 2-0 Ivy) will open its action-packed break with home matches against Ivy rivals Penn (4-9, 0-1 Ivy) and Princeton (7-2, 1-0) on Friday and Saturday night, respectively. Cornell will finish up the break with a Tuesday tilt against Colgate (6-10, 2-2 Patriot League).[img_assist|nid=32592|title=Gotcha!|desc=Senior captain Hilary Holland (center) will lead the team in three matches over Fall Break.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
The Quakers have lost their last four matches to Princeton, Seattle, San Francisco and St. Mary’s (Calif.). Penn was unable to muster much offense against the Tigers — the Quakers finished with a .010 hitting percentage and 24 errors for the match. The Red shouldn’t get too confident — Penn swept Cornell 3-0 in both of the two teams’ matchups last season.
So how does the volleyball team prepare for so many different opponents in such a short time? It focuses on the team it can control: itself.
“It’s just not a year where I spend a whole lot of time focusing on the other team,” said head coach Deitre Collins-Parker. “We just have to continually get better at our game. We watched the video and saw what Penn does, but we know there’s areas that we could use improvement on and if we play our game well, we’ll be OK.”
The Quakers are led by Julia Swanson’s 3.24 kills per set and Kathryn Turner’s 2.19 kills per set to go along with a nifty .272 hitting percentage.
An experienced Princeton squad has the best overall winning percentage in the Ancient Eight and won’t be an easy opponent for the Red to dispatch.
“Princeton has five of their six starters returning so we know them well already,” Collins-Parker said.
The Tigers lead the Ivy League in opponent’s hitting percentage, a paltry .162, thanks in large part to its talent at the middle blocker position.
“We know that they run very quick to their middles,” Collins-Parker said. “Last year they had one dominant middle; now they have a second middle that’s doing very well as well, so we know that we have to do a really good job of covering the middles.”
On the offensive side, Lindsey Ensign leads the Ivy League with a .403 hitting percentage. Ensign combined with the other two members of Princeton’s big three — Parker Henritze and Sheena Donohue — to form the core of a formidable offense.
“They have a really good outside too,” Collins-Parker said. “Offensively they’re very strong.”
Colgate dropped its last match to Army; it was a well-fought four-set affair.
“They’re basically a pretty scrappy team that runs a quick offense,” Collins-Parker said. “They’re not real big but they take advantage of the athletes that they have and they really perform at a high level for their abilities.”