October 17, 2008

Volleyball Faces Two Ivy Foes

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The whirlwind season continues as the volleyball team, fresh off a tough four-set loss to Colgate Tuesday night, hits the road to take on Ivy rivals Harvard and Dartmouth this weekend. The Red will face off against the Crimson tonight at 7 p.m. at the Malkin Athletic Center in Cambridge, Mass., before making the drive to Leede Arena in Hanover, N.H., to tangle with the Green on Dartmouth’s Homecoming weekend.
In Cornell’s (4-10, 3-1 Ivy) last game action, the team fell despite a fast start and 1-0 advantage in sets over Colgate. Ultimately, the Raiders were better able to make adjustments, said Cornell head coach Deitre Collins-Parker.
“We definitely could have come back, which is always disappointing,” said junior libero Megan Mushovic. “Colgate adjusted well and we just needed to recover faster.”
Regardless of whatever in-match adjustments the Crimson (7-9, 2-2 Ivy) and the Green (5-9, 1-3 Ivy) make this weekend, Cornell knows that it has to execute its blocks to give the defense, led by Mushovic and her 5.98 digs per set (No. 3 in the nation), a fighting chance.
“We spend a lot of time on blocking and defense in practice because that’s one thing that makes a big difference in our game,” Collins-Parker said. “That’s what our focus has been on, and what it will be on, no matter who we’re playing.”[img_assist|nid=32744|title=Defense wins championships|desc=The Red has been refocusing on its blocking up front to improve its defense.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
Defense wins championships, or so the adage says, and the Red can certainly attest to the value of a solid back line after seeing the impact Mushovic and the blockers made on the match against Penn last weekend, a 3-1 victory for Cornell. Freshman middle blocker Kelly Hansen put up nine blocks for the squad and got her hands on numerous other shots, making it easier for Mushovic to rack up her 36 digs.
“The blockers did a really good job setting it up so it was really easy to read around,” Mushovic said. “They just set it up so well.”
Like Cornell, Harvard is coming off a loss that might be tough to swallow — it rallied from a two-set deficit only to fall to Yale in five sets 25-19, 25-19, 13-25, 20-25, 15-11. The Red will have to watch out for senior Kathryn McKinley, who excelled in Harvard’s last match with 26 kills, 19 digs and a .510 hitting percentage. McKinley’s 19 digs gave her 1,000 for her career; she is the eighth player from Harvard to reach that defensive milestone.
“Harvard is really good with putting the shot where they want so we have to be smart with the blocking,” said freshman outside hitter Meagan Tatum.
Dartmouth recorded its first Ivy win of the season last weekend against Brown, but it should have plenty of emotion and a rowdy home crowd on hand to rally the team for Homecoming. Mushovic knows it will be key for the Red to get out to a good start against the Green and keep the crowd from becoming a factor.
“Dartmouth can play really well and play their best game. But sometimes if you can get to them early they shut down, so we’re hoping we can shut them down early,” Mushovic said. “It’s Dartmouth’s homecoming which adds a little extra energy so hopefully we shut them down early.”