By OLIVIA MATTYASOVSZKY
On Saturday, Cornell hosted Columbia in their first Ivy League match of the season. The Red entered the weekend with a 4-6 record, and the Lions came in with a 2-7 record.
After hosting the Big Red Invitational last weekend, the Red was hard at work on the fundamentals in preparation for entering Ivy League play.
“At time last weekend we saw how good we can be when we play together as a team,” said junior setter Alyssa Phelps. “We worked a lot in practice on being disciplined and blocking and we executed both of those things very well on Saturday. We just have to work on being consistent.”
Phelps finished the match with nine kills, 27 assists, seven digs, and three blocks. She shared the setting position with freshman Lauren Donnelly, who added her own 15 assists and 12 digs.
The Red took the first set 25-21, with impressive hitting by Alex Basler, Macey Wilson and Emily Wemhoff.
“This past Saturday was definitely a learning experience,” Wemhoff said. “As a team, especially in sets one, two and four, we learned that we can play at a high level that is completely capable of beating anyone in the Ivy League.”
The second set was a nail biter, ending 26-24, Lions. For Columbia Zoe Jacobs and Luciana Del Valle posted big numbers, Jacobs with 19 kills and Del Valle in the double digits as well.
The third set belonged to the Lions, who took it 25-20. The Big Red rallied in the fourth set, keeping the Lions down with impressive blocking performance by Macey Wilson and the entire front line.
“The loss was tough but it did really motivate us to get really focused and take care of business at Yale and Brown this weekend,” Wilson said. “We had some amazing moments that proved we are really talented and can play really well. We just really want to stay consistent at the level we know we can play at.”
Cornell has a lot to build on, with strong individual performances on defense and offense. Freshman Alex Basler had an outstanding kill percentage, posting up a .455 average and no errors. On the defensive side, sophomore libero Chelsea Sincox had 23 digs and even posted up four assists. Right behind her was freshman defensive specialist Shae Bauchens who scooped up 17 of Columbia’s hits.
Phelps remains positive about the outlook for the season.
“Our jitters about playing the Ivies are gone and we’ve learned from our mistakes,” Phelps said. “After seeing the league results from last weekend it’s obvious that this year any team could take the top spot at the end of the season and we’re not counting ourselves out. We’re going to continue to work hard, improve, and grow to make us the best team we can be.”
Her teammates share the same attitude.
“Going forward, it’s going to be about playing at that top level consistently and maintaining composure on the court when the pressure is on,” Wemhoff said. The loss was a tough one, but that just means we are going to be fired up this next week and ready to get better. Even though we came away with the loss, I think everyone realized we have a great season ahead of us.”