In sports movies, there is always a scene when the head coach comes before his or her players prior to the first game of the season and utters some emotional words of advice like, “The journey to the championship begins with a single win,” or “This is where we set the tone for the season,” and the most classic, “If we just believe in ourselves, we can really do something special.” The speech is usually followed by some montage of the team winning every game of the season and advancing to the championship game, where it wins in an obnoxiously dramatic fashion. The Cornell women’s volleyball team hopes its year will unravel in a similar manner (minus the dramatic speeches), as it opens the 2011 campaign for an Ivy League championship with the Big Red Invitational at Newman Arena this weekend. Coming off a forgettable 2010 season in which the Red finished at the bottom of the Ivy League with a poor 2-12 record, the team is looking to turn over a new leaf and begin to be competitive in every game.“Every day in practice, we have really been competing like never before,” said junior middle blocker Alice Cope, when asked how this year’s team is different than past ones. “We have remarkable leadership and four freshmen that have really stepped up.”The group of freshmen, from various parts of the country, includes Sarah Hunt, Sarah Okey, Natasha Rowland and Kelly Reinke.“They’ve pushed the team to new standards and allowed us to reach levels of intensity that we have not seen before,” Cope said.Tomorrow at noon, the team will face Delaware State in its first game of the weekend. Like the Red, Delaware State is coming into the tournament without any experience against the other teams. Although the Hornets lost four seniors who helped the team come one win shy of winning its first Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Title since 1986, they return seven letter winners and should prove to be a formidable foe for Cornell. In addition to facing a strong Delaware State team, the Red will also play Texas-El Paso, Niagara and American over the weekend. The Red has never lost to Niagara, but Texas-El Paso and American are formidable opponents, as Cornell has never defeated either team in program history.However, senior captain and libero Risa Ka’awa says this year’s squad is “sick of losing.” “We’re excited to start playing some high level competition in the early stages of the season. Every practice has been great, and we are only getting better,” she said.With a great group of freshman and a crop of anxious returning starters, the Red hopes to begin its season with a slew of wins and quickly gain momentum. That, the players hope, will carry them throughout the season towards an Ivy Championship.
Original Author: Nicholas Rielly