October 20, 2008

Volleyball Sweeps Weekend Road Matches Against Crimson, Green

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Sometimes, things just seem to fall into place. The volleyball team must be feeling a similar sensation today after returning home this weekend with two more Ivy wins under its belt and tied for first in the Ivy standings. The Red beat Harvard on Friday, 3-2, and defeated Dartmouth the next afternoon, 3-2.
Although both teams put up a good fight against Cornell, the Red came through when it absolutely needed to — bringing the squad to 5-1 against Ancient Eight foes (6-10 overall) after early struggles in the non-conference schedule.
“I think we’re in a good place,” said head coach Deitre Collins-Parker.
A weekend sweep will be good for the Red as they face Yale, also No. 1 in the League, this weekend.
“I think it was a really good confidence boost,” said senior captain Hilary Holland. “They were hard-fought games, and we hung in there and won them.”
[img_assist|nid=32780|title=Hats off to Holland|desc=Senior captain Hilary Holland (2) tallied a career-high 54 assists in Friday’s win over Harvard, 3-2.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
The match against Harvard (7-10, 3-3 Ivy) was certainly no pushover, with the fifth game being decided 16-14.
In the first set, Cornell and Harvard were tied at the halfway point, 15-15. Then the Red pushed ahead, winning the set 25-19.
In the second set, it was Harvard who had the edge, maintaining a slight lead throughout the game, and never letting the Red gain any significant ground. Holland recorded 14 of her career-high 54 assists during the game. Harvard benefited from a solid .464 hitting average.
Freshman outside hitter Megan Tatum played well in third game, making six kills and hitting .500 percent. The Red mirrored her strong effort, recording the easiest win of the match, 25-18.
“On Friday, Meagan Tatum, for four games, played exceptionally,” Collins-Parker said.
Tatum, who finished the match with 18 kills, struggled in the fifth game, along with a defense that allowed the Crimson to come back from a 14-8 deficit and tie the game at 14 apiece.
Fellow freshman Kelly Hansen, a middle blocker, had a big kill in the final game and recorded a career-high 12 block assists for the match.
“For the weekend, Kelly Hansen really stepped up,” Collins-Parker said.
Senior middle blocker Emily Borman also chipped in with 13 kills and a .500 hitting percentage.
Against Dartmouth (5-10, 2-4 Ivy) the next day, Cornell gave a similar performance to Friday night’s win. At times, the Red played very well, but then it would falter, letting the opponent come back and win a game.
“We’re still too inconsistent,” Holland said. “I think we could have won our matches in four games instead of five.”
Dartmouth jumped on Cornell early, winning the first set quickly, 25-15. It seemed the Big Green might do the same thing in the second set after taking an early lead, but the Red came back to tie the game at 20. Both teams battled for the lead, but at 24, both team remained tied. Borman got the Red a much-needed kill, and then junior libero Megan Mushovic finished Dartmouth off with a well-timed service ace, ending the game at 26-24.
In game three, Cornell built a large lead of its own, but again failed to put Dartmouth away, allowing the Big Green to rally and tie everything up at 23. Hansen stepped up for an important kill, as did sophomore outside hitter Alessa Cekauskas, pulling the win out
Eleventh hour heroics seemed to be a theme for the Red this weekend.
“Offensively, we got big kills and big points when we needed them,” Collins-Parker said.
In the fourth set, Dartmouth capitalized on Cornell errors to charge to a dominant 25-18 win, setting up the penultimate fifth game. Overall, the Red gave up 33 errors, compared to Dartmouth’s 21.
‘We’re still working on minimizing our errors,” Collins-Parker said.
Cornell collected itself, and came out strong in the fifth game. Although Dartmouth put up a fight, the Red rolled to a 15-10 victory with .450 hitting as a team. Holland had another excellent game, notching 45 assists with her 15 digs, and Mushovic contributed 17 digs.
Despite Cornell’s success, Collins-Parker cautioned against an overly confident attitude, emphasizing the Red’s continued status as an underdog.
“Youth-wise, we’re not frontrunners,” she said, “as far as expected frontrunners [go]. We know that we still have a long way to go.”