By ANNA FASMAN
This past weekend, the volleyball team began its season with a little bit of a disappointing start. The Red faced four teams in the Seton Hall tournament, including hosts Seton Hall, Siena College, Rutgers and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, but were only able to snag one win against Siena.
With a crop of new Cornell players stepping onto the court for the first time, the team took this weekend as an opportunity to settle itself back into the game and feel out the team dynamic in an actual game setting. Sophomore middle hitter Macey Wilson acknowledged that while the team started off on shaky ground, this weekend served as a learning experience.
“Since this was our first time playing together, one of the biggest things that we will take away from this weekend is the chemistry and growth that we were able to have over the course of our four matches,” she said.
Head coach Melissa Batie-Smoose is optimistic that the team will continue to improve throughout the season, despite some disappointing matches this weekend.
“We are very young and will get better with that every week as the team gets used to playing together and playing at this level,” she said.
Senior libero Natasha Rowland echoed this sentiment.
“Of course there is always a lot of nerves during the first match, but we continued to improve all weekend and it feels really good to have some matches under our belt,” she said.
Even in the midst of opening weekend jitters, however, the Red was still able to earn a win against Siena. The Red fought hard through a five-set match and ultimately was able to pull out a win late in the game. This victory was especially exciting since the overall win hinged on the final fifth set. Sophomore setter Alyssa Phelps mentioned this success as a motivational force moving forward.
“Our five set win against Siena was a huge victory for us. We knew we could put up a fight and it was really exciting to win our first match together,” she said. “One of our goals for this season is to win every game that goes to five sets and we were proud to accomplish that. That game ignited a fire and we’re ready to take on the rest of game ignited a fire and we’re ready to take on the rest of our season.”
While not necessarily the team’s best volleyball of the weekend, Batie-Smoose is still proud of her players’ tenacity.
“It was not the best volleyball match to watch but we finished strong and at this point in the season that is all that matters,” she said.
The team looks to refine its skills as it moves ahead, especially in the area of defense and blocking. Wilson, whose main responsibility on the court is hitting and blocking in the front row, acknowledged that blocking was an area of weakness that the team definitely seeks to improve.
While the team looks to progress collectively after this weekend’s tournament, one Red player individually had a strong weekend and earned her place on the all-tournament team. Rowland, who strictly plays in the back as a defensive specialist (libero), was able to earn 25 digs during the Red’s game against Rutgers, which moved her career total up to 930 digs. The senior now holds a place in the top-10 for Cornell volleyball in this statistic. While Rowland is excited about her personal victory, she is also proud of her team.
“It feels really nice to be recognized for my efforts, but I think everyone on the team worked really hard and did some great things this weekend,” she said.