By EMILY BERMAN
Despite a strong start, the volleyball team fell to Columbia, 3-1, in its Ivy League opener. With the loss, the team drops to 3-8 on the season.
Cornell opened the first game leading 8-5, but Columbia tied it up at 10 after a strong spurt. The Red rebounded with four straight points, prompting a timeout by the Lions, but the Red continued strong play after the break to go up, 20-12. Although the Lions clawed their way back to 22-18, the Red pulled away to win the opener, 25-20.
“We have to work on playing at a consistent level,” sophomore setter Alyssa Phelps said a few days before the game, as the Red were recovering from a 3-0 loss to Binghamton in the team’s home opener. “We have highs and lows and we have to find a way to balance that out.”
The Red showed its inconsistency by dropping the next three games. The Red began the second game with energy, leading 4-1, but a 7-0 run by the Lions put Columbia up, 10-7. Another run, this time for three straight points, put the Lions up 16-11, and despite back-to-back kills from freshman Emily Wemhoff and sophomore Macey Wilson, the Lions kept control for a 25-21 victory.
Columbia blew past the Red in the third match, swinging an 11-2 run into a 20-9 lead. The Lions eventually roared their way to a 25-12 win.
“I think a lot of our opponents were at a level that is at the top of our Ivies or a little better, so that was planned so that hopefully there were no surprises,” head coach Melissa Batie-Smoose said of preseason preparation for Ivy League play.
In the fourth game of its opening Ivy match, the Red rebounded from the disappointing third game to lead, 7-2, at the start. The Lions climbed back to within two, at 11-9, then evened the score at 13-13. The Red managed to go back up, 18-14, but an 11-2 run from the Lions handed Columbia the 25-20 win.
The Red continued to produce strong play from its large squad of freshman. Maddy Sroufe and Wemhoff each had 10 kills, while Chelsea Sincox posted 16 digs for a career high. Key kills by Gabrielle Ennis and a service ace from Kiley McPeek helped the Red at points during the games as well.
“We’re pretty on par for our expectations for a young team,” Batie-Smoose said. “We do some really great things, but we give up too many points right now and that’s just age.”
The Red is set for its first full Ivy weekend when it travels to Princeton and Penn next Friday and Saturday, respectively.