September 2, 2010

Red Volleyball Team Hosts Siena During Cornell Invitational

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Starting off with a string of wins on its home turf would be an ideal start to the fall season. And the volleyball team will get the opportunity to do so this weekend when the Red hosts Siena, Saint Francis and Lamar in this year’s Cornell Invitational. The four teams will face off in Newman Arena in a series of matches scheduled for today and tomorrow.

“In preseason, we’ve been practicing and practicing and this weekend will give us the opportunity to show everyone and to show ourselves what we can do,” said junior Kelly Hansen. “Hopefully it will light a fire and help us hit the ground running this season so we can start off 3-0 after the tournament this weekend.”

Tonight, Cornell (0-0) will match up against its first opponent, Siena College (0-3). The Saints fell in their first three matches at the Texas A&M Invitational to host Texas A&M, LSU and Pacific. A freshman, Taylor Akana, is leading the team with an average of 2.56 kills and 2.89 digs per set.

“We played them in the spring, so I’m looking forward to seeing how we’ll do. I think it’s a good opponent for us to face for our first match of the season,” said head coach Sarah Bernson.

Though the Red has the advantage in terms of its series record against Siena, 4-1, Siena defeated Cornell during the two teams’ last meeting in 2007 (3-1); that said, Cornell won’t be discounting Siena’s abilities.

“They’ve had success in their conference. They came to our tournament in 2007 and it was a solid competition for us,” Benson said.

Tomorrow, the Red will first play Saint Francis University (1-2) and then Lamar University (0-3).

The Red holds a wide advantage, 10-0, in its series record with Saint Francis, and took a 3-0 victory in its last meeting with the Red Flash. Saint Francis opened its season with a pair of loses to Morgan State and Lehigh before picking up a 3-1 win against Youngstown State.

Cornell’s second match on Saturday will be against Lamar. Marking the Red’s first meeting with the Cardinals, the match will provide an opportunity to compare Cornell’s skills against Lamar, a team that last year took the win against eventual Ivy champ Penn.

“They played Penn last year and beat them in a close five-set match. Granted it’s a new year, but I think it will give us a gauge of how far we’ve come,” Bernson said.

During all three games, the Red plans to get itself more used to playing in a competitive setting and will focus its efforts on controlling play on its side of the net, regardless of opponent.

“In general, we always go out with the same mindset and try to control our side of the net prior to worrying about the other team,” Hansen said.

While most other teams have already played competitively this season, Cornell’s volleyball schedule sets the Red a week behind most teams in terms of competitive time on the court. That means that the Red still has a clean slate in terms of its record, and is anxious to display the level of preparedness it reached during the offseason. The Red looks forward to starting its competitive season and showing the progress it has made as a team since 2009.

“We’ve worked all spring long and the new freshmen have really assimilated well with the program that we’re trying to establish, so I think we’re going to succeed this weekend,” Hansen said.

Original Author: Laura Dwulet