September 26, 2011

VOLLEYBALL | First Ivy Win Slips Away in Final Sets

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In sports, some losses hurt more than others. Cornell experienced one of its most painful defeats in recent memory on Saturday in a hard-fought match against Ivy foe Columbia. The volleyball team could not find a way to close out the Lions, taking the loss in its league opener in heartbreaking fashion. After winning the first two sets by the same final score, 25-21, the Red (3-9, 0-1 Ivy League) dropped three straight sets to Columbia (7-4, 1-0) in the first Ancient Eight contests of the season.

Freshman setter Kelly Reinke, who provided the Red with an impressive 25 assists, said that the Columbia game “was rough.”

“Not only did we lose in such a devastating manner, but it was our Ivy opener in front of our home crowd. It is never easy to lose that way,” she added.

The game could not have started any better for the Red, as Cornell jumped out to an early lead, 7-4. Columbia and Cornell then traded points in a fiercely competitive match that ended with the Red going on a 3-1 run to win the set. The turning point occurred when senior libero and captain Risa Ka’awa delivered a service ace to give Cornell a two-point cushion. After that blow, the Lions could not find a way to come back in the first.

The second set unfolded in a similar fashion with Cornell jumping out to a wide lead that it successfully defended throughout the contest. Although there were some strong pushes by Columbia throughout the set, the Red held on for the win to go up 2-0 in the match.

Momentum soon shifted in favor of the Lions in the third set. Cornell remained competitive in the first half of the set, but seemed to lose focus when a two-point margin was blown open after an eight-point run by Columbia put the Lions ahead, 18-8. After that stretch the Red had difficulty keeping its composure, and began to fall apart.

Freshman defensive specialist Natasha Rowland thought that the third set was the start of when the team “began to break down.”

“We did not maintain our level of play or our intensity that we showed in the first two games. Columbia capitalized, and we were disappointed,” she said.

Despite the momentum-shifting loss in the third set, the Red managed to keep the fourth bout competitive, as Columbia and Cornell traded points until the Lions took advantage of several miscues by the home team to take a four-point lead, 18-14. The Red could not climb back from the deficit, and ultimately dropped the set.

The final set was dominated by Columbia, as the Lions rushed out to an early lead, 12-5. Although Cornell trimmed the deficit to five at one point, the resurgence proved to be too little too late, and Columbia closed out its impressive comeback with a win, 15-10.

Although Cornell, lost the game, Rowland was still encouraged by the team’s play.

“We were really disappointed we lost, but we know we can still play at a high level. We will be ready for Yale,” she said.

Cornell opens its first full Ivy League weekend on Friday at 7 p.m. in New Haven, Conn. against Yale (7-4, 1-0). The Red continues Ancient Eight play on Saturday with a 4 p.m. matchup at Brown (4-8, 0-1) in Providence, R.I.

Original Author: Nicholas Rielly