October 28, 2008

Red Plays Binghamton in Midweek Contest

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The midweek matchup can be a very important tool for teams trying to get ahead in the middle of conference play — an opportunity to compete without having to worry about any far-reaching consequences. Cornell’s volleyball team is hoping that today’s match against regional rival Binghamton will keep them sharp and give them the edge they will need as they stare down back-to-back doubleheaders in the next two weeks. The Red will be on the road for the next two weekends, battling four straight Ivy League foes.[img_assist|nid=33057|title=Hands up, eyes closed|desc=Freshman Meagan Tatum (8) goes for the block in the Red’s 3-2 loss to Robert Morris.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
“I think this is a good opportunity to have a good game as a team,” said head coach Deitre Collins-Parker.
This will be the Red’s last mid-week, non-conference match for the Red, and Collins-Parker said she hopes to use the lower-pressure competition as an opportunity for some game-situation experience.
“It’s better than a practice,” she said. “There’s no significant importance to the [match], except that we want to play a good match.”
The last time the Red played in a midweek was on Oct. 14, when Cornell lost a tough match to Colgate, 3-1.
“Obviously, we didn’t have a great night at Colgate, but we did do some things well,” Collins-Parker said.
On the other hand, Collins-Parker stressed the fact that her team will not be “taking it easy.” If anything, midweeks can serve as a test of a team’s competitive fire. It is important to win when there’s pressure, but it is just as important to be able to step it up when the only pressure is internally generated.
“We need to enter every match to win,” Collins-Parker said.
Cornell split the weekend’s contests, losing 3-0 to Ivy leader Yale and then rebounding for a 3-1 victory over Brown’s Bears. While the team played well in streaks during both matches, there are definitely things the team will be working on during the Binghamton match, Collins-Parker said.
“We’re going to continue to work on our game,” she said. “Offensively, we’re trying to be more diverse. We’re always trying to work on our defense and our blocking.”
There is a definite art to picking when to play midweeks — it can’t be during a week when the players will be exhausted from a long road weekend, or it there is the possibility that it will negatively affect the team’s next conference matches.
“I just try to find a weekend when we’re not on the road a lot,” Collins-Parker said.
Ultimately, it’s up to the coaches to schedule these regional matchups, but in the Ivy League, teams are hampered by League restrictions on how many days the teams can schedule competitions. This forces teams to play multiple games on one day, or drop many possible midweeks altogether.
For Division I, Ivy League teams like Columbia, which are in an area with a lot of nearby competition, the Ivy League’s rules are not as much of a problem, but Cornell’s relative isolation means the Red either have to convince teams to travel to Ithaca, or they have to disrupt schedule and travel to another school during the middle of the academic week.
In fact, Collins-Parker said that next year, she thinks she will cut back on the number of midweeks she schedules, precisely because they cause too much a strain to be placed on her student-athletes academically.
In terms of the Red’s expectations for today, Collins-Parker said that she expects some very competitive games. The team lost to Binghamton’s squad last year for the “first time in a long time,” she said, and this year’s veterans are eager to redeem themselves.
“[Binghamton] is a good team. We have some redemption to do,” she said.