September 8, 2009

Volleyball Drops Three in Season-Opening Tourney

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While a lot has changed for the volleyball team, following the Red’s first tournament of the 2009 season, it seems that a lot has also stayed the same. With a new head coach and seven freshmen on the roster, Cornell had a nearly identical start to the season as it did last year, going 0-3 in it’s first tournament, with a 1-9 set record. The lone win came in the opening set against host George Mason, a victory sandwiched between 3-0 shutouts against Morehead State and Kent State at the Patriot Invitational.
In its first competition of the year, the Red got off to a shaky and never recovered, eventually falling to Morehead State in straight sets, 25-12, 25-19, 25-19. Cornell was consistently victimized by opponents putting together consecutive points, and an early 4-0 run, followed by an 8-2 run, gave the Eagles an insurmountable 15-7 lead in the first set.
“We’re a new team,” said freshman outside hitter Deveney Pula. “We’re still learning how to play well with each other.”[img_assist|nid=37876|title=Up and at ’em|desc=Sophomore middle blocker Kelly Hansen (left) goes up for a block last year against Harvard. The Red has not yet started the Ivy portion of its season.|link=node|align=left|width=336|height=252]
Cornell recovered in the second set and at one point led 12-11. But after eventually fighting its way back to a 21-19 lead, Morehead State finished off the final four points to take the second set. The Eagles opened the third set with a 5-0 lead and never looked back, fending off a 9-3 run by the Red to take another 25-19 win and the match.
Despite the loss, senior captain and libero Megan Mushovic totaled 26 digs, while sophomore setter Jordan Reeder directed the offense and totaled 19 assists. Junior outside hitter Erin McCarthy was the beneficiary of six of those assists to lead the Red in kills.
Cornell opened up the second day of competition with its 25-21 victory over George Mason. The Red got the job done early, taking a 6-2 lead and later stringing together six unanswered points to lead 13-5, enough of a cushion to win despite a Patriots run mid-set.
The second proved to be the closest set of the match, and the Red eventually found itself tied with the Patriots at 20 points apiece. In the end, however, it found itself on the wrong end of a 25-23 final tally.
After its hard-fought second set, the Red would not reach 20 points again, losing 25-18 and 25-17 to close out the 3-1 George Mason victory. Reeder totaled 33 assists in the match, while Mushovic’s 13 digs were second to freshman Taylor Nieman’s 14. Senior co-captain Juliana Rogers led the team with nine kills to go with five digs and two aces.
With its first set-win of the season under its belt, Cornell wrapped up the tournament with a 3-0 loss to Kent State, losing by scores of 25-18, 25-20 and 25-13. In both the first and second sets, Cornell gave itself a chance, coming as close as 13-12 and 20-20, respectively. But the Red couldn’t capitalize on the close competition, allowing its opponents to ultimately overpower the club.
“We definitely learned a lot as a team,” Mushovic said. “We had some stuff to work on but we definitely worked hard. We were up against a different team that does things differently than we’re used to. We adjusted well.”
Like last year, the Red jumped right into the fire at the beginning of the season, facing tough competition at an away tournament. While some teams might prefer a softer opening, the Cornell squad knows that it must gear up to face tough Ivy League competition.
“I like the idea of hitting the ground running,” Mushovic said. “If it’s not hard, you’re not getting better.”
In their final match, Reeder complemented 16 assists with a team-high 9 digs, while Pula led the squad with seven kills to go with six digs and two aces. With 17 kills and 10 digs over the weekend, McCarthy was the Red’s lone representative on the All-Tournament team.
“It went really well,” McCarthy said. “We obviously didn’t get the outcome that we would have liked in regards to wins and losses, but as a team we competed well. We found our weaknesses and things that we need to work on.”