November 17, 2008

Volleyball Sweeps, Finishes Season in Top Half of Ivy League

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Head coach Deitre Collins-Parker didn’t have any complex strategic advice or passionate speeches for the volleyball team when it seemed on its way to an upset loss to Harvard in the last match of the season. She asked a simple question, and the team — which had dropped the third and fourth sets to Harvard after winning the first two — responded.
“I asked them one thing: if they wanted to win,” Collins-Parker said. “If you want to win it, you’ve got to get it done. It wasn’t any magic words.”
The Red (10-15, 9-5 Ivy) certainly had its reasons to win. With the weekend’s wins over Dartmouth and Harvard, Cornell could tie for third place in the Ancient Eight if Penn (13-12, 9-4) loses to second-place Princeton (17-4, 11-2) on Wednesday. It was also the last match of the seniors’ collegiate careers and, as Collins-Parker stresses, a chance to beat the teams that the Red “should beat.”[img_assist|nid=33659|title=Sniper|desc=Sophomore outside hitter Alessa Cekauskas led the volleyball team with 15 kills in the Red’s five-set win over Harvard.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
“We’re hoping that we could finish third,” Collins-Parker said. “I think that’s pretty respectable and I think that, in my own mind, that’s where we should be. If we [finished] higher than that we would have had to overachieve, and much lower than that we would have underachieved.”
Dartmouth (8-16, 3-10) gave Cornell an early scare on Friday night by taking the first set, 25-23. The Green held a 20-15 lead before the Red staged a mini-rally to draw within two points, 22-20.
The Red won the next three sets comfortably, 25-22, 25-19 and 25-17.
Sophomore outside hitter Erin McCarthy led the offense with 14 kills and freshman middle blocker Kelly Hansen added 12 kills for a .550 hitting percentage and three block assists.
Serving was an issue for the Red — the team notched just three aces with 10 service errors.
Harvard (10-16, 5-9) proved to be a worthy foe on Saturday afternoon, despite being on the Red’s list of teams it should beat. After Cornell won the first two sets without much trouble, 25-21 and 25-19, the Crimson stormed back after the break with a new intensity and level of play, and the Red struggled to keep up.
“Harvard went back [into the locker room] and tried to drum up the emotion,” Collins-Parker said. “They knew they had to get emotionally higher to beat us because we were playing well, and we came out flat. It happens sometimes. … We just didn’t play as hard as we needed to coming out of that break.”
In both the third and fourth sets, Cornell fell behind early, rallied late to keep the score close, then ultimately lost the set.
“We played hard at the end of [the third] set as well as at the end of the fourth set but it was too little too late and we should not have relaxed like we did,” Collins-Parker said.
With the match tied at two sets apiece, Cornell seemed to regroup and dominated the fifth set, 15-9. The Red held a 9-1 lead at one point in the set following a misplaced tip by the Crimson. Senior middle blocker Emily Borman notched kills on three of the first four points of the set then later sealed the win for the Red with a block helped by classmate outside hitter Kathryn Woodbury.
“It was a great way to go out,” Borman said.