Looking for its first Ivy League win of the season, the volleyball team hosts two formidable rivals this weekend. Penn (5-8, 2-1 Ivy League) and Princeton (10-5, 3-0) will provide tough competition, but the Red (2-12, 0-3) certainly believes it is prepared for the challenge.“We’ve watched video on ourselves and of the opponents,” said head coach Sarah Bernson. “Right now we feel it’s more about us continuing our development than any opponent doing anything in particular.”The Red takes on Penn on Friday at 7 p.m. for its first match of the weekend at Newman Arena. The women will have to work hard to beat the Quakers, who hold a 35-23 advantage in the all-time series and were victorious in the most recent meeting — a shutout win for Penn last November, 3-0. The gap between the two teams is close, however, and the Red is looking to avenge last year’s straight set loss.“We have to work on maintaining our focus and composure for a whole match as well as fight for every point,” said senior middle blocker and captain Madeleine Przybyl. “This weekend it’s going to be about us and how we perform. We have total control of how much effort we put in and ultimately how we want to play and what kind of team we want to be.” On Saturday at 5 p.m. the team faces Princeton, who also emerged on top at its last matchup, defeating Cornell in Nov. 2010, 3-1. The Tigers have a strong command in the series between the two schools, leading Cornell, 43-17. Despite the historical statistics the Red believes that if the team plays up to its capabilities it will definitely have a chance to add a victory to the lopsided record against the Tigers.“We want to win, and this weekend is about taking another step forward in that direction,” said Przybyl. “We’re at a point in the program where we’re on the verge of another breakthrough and it’s going to take the combined efforts of everyone on the team to reach the next level.”Falling just short of success in a five-set thriller at Brown last weekend, the Red demonstrated its ability to be a solid competitor in the Ivy League. “[The team has] seen when we earn our points what a difference that can make,” Bernson said. “That awareness of feeling of what it means to earn points and working to make that happen is going to help us in the competition from now on.”Przybyl also noted that the challenges of a long match can help the Red improve heading into this weekend.“Close matches are always good experiences for a team because they test your physical capabilities and your mental toughness,” she said. “I think the Brown match showed us that we can last physically for five games, but we need to work on staying mentally focused throughout the whole match as well.”This weekend the women have another opportunity to show improvement, and will build upon both the positives and negatives of the season thus far to try and come up with a few victories.
Original Author: Olivia Wittels