September 11, 2009

V-Ball Heads to Binghamton

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With last week’s tough season-opening tournament out of the way and under its belt, the volleyball team will be looking to pick up its first win — or wins — of the season this weekend at the Binghamton Invitational. The Red will face Farleigh Dickinson this afternoon, with two matches against Towson and Binghamton tomorrow morning and evening. The tournament will take place just down the hill in Vestal, N.Y.
“This weekend being at Binghamton gives us another opportunity to see some competition,” said head coach Sarah Bernson in an interview with the university. “[We will] see where we’ve improved upon from last week and continue to give us benchmarks for our own development as a team.”
The Knights, the Red’s first opponent, have already played nine matches, compared to the Red’s three. The Farleigh club started out its season with two wins, but has since slipped in production, and enters the match with 3-6 overall record. Cornell has played well against Farleigh in the past, and in the previous 12 meetings the Red leads the series 10-2. However, the two teams have not met in competition since Cornell’s 3-0 victory back in 2004.[img_assist|nid=37970|title=Line it up|desc=Senior middle blocker and co-captain Juliana Rogers (14) led the team in kills per set (2.66) last season.|link=node|align=left|width=336|height=513]
The Red’s second opponent, Towson, will doubtless not be lacking in confidence coming into the weekend, as the Tigers are currently riding a five-game winning streak. They have an overall record of 6-2.
The Red hasn’t matched up against the Tigers since 1999, and the two teams are tied, 2-2, in past meetings.
Senior co-captain and middle blocker Juliana Rogers said that the team ignores past history when preparing for teams.
“We’re going into each match not really looking at the past,” Rogers said.”[The team] just needs to know what we need to do to win against each team. We’ve been watching a lot of film.”
Rogers said that while the team has watched tape on Farleigh Dickinson together, any member of the team has access to film on all three opponents if they want to study it independently.
This weekend’s host, the Binghamton Bearcats will not be quite as mysterious an opponent as the other two. Cornell has faced its upstate rival 27 times, and currently leads the overall series by a commanding 19-6-2 margin. However, the Red will need to keep its guard up at all times, especially since the Bearcats have earned victories in the last two meetings, in 2007 and 2008. Both of those wins were shutouts.
The Red will be looking to senior co-captain and libero Megan Mushovic to show the same type of leadership and skill she exhibited this past weekend against Morehead. Mushovic posted the third-best performance in Cornell history for digs in a three-game match (26), all while nursing a recent ankle injury. The senior has a good chance of surpassing the Ivy League’s all-time record for career digs, as she only needs 106 more to take the crown, set by Brown’s Tomo Nakanishi in 1999 (1,762 digs.) At the rate she’s going, Mushovic could conceivably overtake Nakanishi next weekend when the Red takes a hospitable turn and hosts the annual Cornell Invitational.
Some new faces to watch this weekend include freshman Alice Cope, the 6-1 middle blocker out of Orange Country, Calif., who Bernson complemented for her poise in the George Mason Patriot Invite.
“Due to injuries and illnesses in the middle blocker position [Cope] really needed to start and play the whole weekend,” Bernson said in an interview with the university. “She really matured over the three matches, started to score points, and really own her position on the court. We were really impressed with how she did at George Mason.”
Rogers emphasized the large role all of the freshmen will have on the team this season.
“They’re all a large part of the team,” she said. “They’re doing a great job, even if it’s their debut match.”
While Bernson continued to stress this period as a learning and developmental stage while her relatively young team gears up for the beginning of the Ivy League season on Sept. 26, she also emphasized that each match is important in its own right — Ivy or not.
“There are certainly opportunities to prove ourselves and get some W’s [this weekend],” Bernson said. “We’re going to have to continue to work together as a team and execute our system and game plan. It’ll be an exciting weekend and I am looking forward to [the matches.]”
The away weekend will also be another opportunity for the team to leave the campus, escaping, at least for a few hours, the virulent strain of swine flu currently sweeping through the undergraduate population. Although so far no one on the team has fallen victim to the flu, Rogers said that everyone has been warned repeatedly about the danger and has been taking extra precautions.
“We’re definitely not sharing anything,” she said. “Our trainers have put up signs in the training rooms saying wash your hands, and if you feel sick at all put a mask on.”