September 22, 2011

VOLLEYBALL | Saturday’s Match Will Mark Beginning of Ivy Play

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Non-conference play ends this weekend as the volleyball team will play its first Ivy game against Columbia (6-4) on Saturday at 5 p.m. in Newman Arena. But first, tonight at 7 p.m., Cornell will play against Binghamton (7-9), a team that played the Lions last weekend and lost, 3-0. The Red returns to its home court after two weekends of competing on the road, determined to open the regular season strong.

After a break from practice on Monday to regroup and refocus its mindset, the Red (2-8) spent the week focusing on the mental aspect of the game and reducing mental errors.

“We’re physically very capable of taking the win,” said defensive specialist Risa Ka’awa.

The senior captain added that the team needs to be more disciplined in putting pressure on its opponent and not itself early on.

Cornell’s goal as a team for improvement is to maintain its motivation and stamina — physical and mental — throughout the entire match.

“Competition is the best training tool [for improving mentally]” said head coach Sarah Bernson.

This weekend’s games are a great opportunity for the Red to work on mentally finishing out the match as the squad faces tough competition with Binghamton and Columbia.

Tonight’s Binghamton game gives the Red an advantage to warm up and work out some kinks before playing Columbia on Saturday, according to Bernson.

“It is lucky we get to play them [Binghamton] before an Ivy team — that typically doesn’t happen,” she said. “I think Binghamton will be a crafty team, especially in their shots, which will help us against Columbia.”

Ka’awa also notes that Binghamton will be tough competition, not a roll over match.

Against Columbia, Bernson said her team needs to keep an eye on Lions junior outside hitter Megan Gaughn — their go-to player.

“More [important] than anything — besides Megan Gaughn — is us needing to play our system with less errors.”

Columbia also has a lot of young new players, but Ka’awa says the team is focusing on “playing our game and not worrying about the other team.”

The Red wants to dictate the direction of the game from the beginning.

“We played some challenging teams that made us work, and what I appreciate about our team is they understand what those challenges taught us,” Bernson said of the team’s play in the non-conference.

The head coach’s analysis resonated with the sentiments expressed by her players.

“Preseason taught us a lot even though the scores haven’t showed that,” Ka’awa said.

The senior captain noted the excitement of playing against the high level of competition the Red faced, as well as figuring out the technicalities in the game Cornell needs to work on.

“The final results [of preseason] were a bit disappointing, but it was good to get the experience playing against powerful teams,” said senior setter Jordan Reeder.

The Red is ready to take the results from its pre-Ivy schedule and use the lessons learned when starting league play.

“At the moment our goal is to finish in the top half of the Ivy [conference],” Ka’awa explained. “As we get further into [season] hopefully [we will reach] our goal.”

“We want to be in the mix in the Ivy, we definitely feel we can be in the upper half of the league, we just need to do our work,” Bernson added.

The Red will get its first chance to play at home after spending the last three weeks away from Newman Arena.

“It will be real nice to play at home” Reeder said. “Playing in front of [the home crowd] is always exciting.”

Original Author: Andrea Sielicki