October 27, 2008

Yale Pounds Red, Solidifies No.1 Ranking in Ivies

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Judging by the level of play and results, it was almost as if two different teams were representing Cornell in Newman Arena over the weekend. On Friday, the volleyball team was thoroughly outplayed by a dominant Yale squad, 25-16, 25-12, 25-13. The next day, the Red showed some jitters early on, but rebounded quickly to take a close match from Brown, 18-25, 25-21, 27-25, 25-23.
The Bulldogs (13-4, 7-1 Ivy League) sit atop the Ivy standings and proved their worth with a one-sided win over Cornell (7-11, 6-2 Ivy). The Bulldogs sported a well-balanced attack — six players finished with more than five kills. Laurel Johnson led Yale’s attack with nine kills and Alexis Crusey and Cat Dailey finished with eight. Ally Mendenhall totaled 37 assists for the Bulldogs.
“Yale did everything pretty well,” said head coach Deitre Collins-Parker. “We never got into a rhythm. One way or another, we just got beat.”
Although the Bulldogs were atop the Ivy standings, Collins-Parker and several of the players said that Yale performed well above its typical level of play.
“Yale played an excellent game,” said senior middle blocker Emily Borman, who had four of the team’s 26 kills in the match. “They did better than they did in any videos that we’d seen — they really just played up to their best level. I think it was our game, our fundamentals broke down and we really didn’t play the game of volleyball very well that day.”
It looked like the Red’s problems would carry over into the next match after the team dropped a close first set to the Bears on Saturday afternoon.
“I kind of feel like the disappointment from having been beaten by Yale carried over into the Brown match a little bit,” Borman said. “We just knew that it couldn’t happen that way, we had to play better volleyball. So the passers really picked it up, the hitters picked it up, we didn’t miss as many serves and we didn’t make as many errors in the next game.”
The Red enjoyed its largest margin of victory in the next set, however, 25-21.
“We had confidence coming in,” Collins-Parker said. “Even though we didn’t start off well, once we realized who they were we realized we could play with them and then we picked up our game.”
Brown (10-10, 3-5 Ivy) is in the middle of the Ancient Eight pack, but was coming off a nice showing against Columbia that saw sophomore Megan Toman finish with 17 kills and 14 digs. Toman continued her strong play against the Red, with another 17 kills, a match-high.
Borman led the Red with 15 kills and scintillating .538 hitting percentage. Time and again Borman would turn a short set from senior captain Hilary Holland into a quick kill. It worked so consistently that Brown’s blockers caught on and frequently put two blocks on Borman, which opened up the court for Cornell’s outside hitters. Outside hitters freshman Meagan Tatum and junior Juliana Rogers finished with 13 and 11 kills, respectively.
“Our outsides really stepped up against Brown, we had some amazing kills by them,” Borman said. “It really allowed [Holland] to have confidence pushing the ball to the pins because we knew that our hitters were strong out there, they were blocking well.”