By OLIVIA MATTYASOVSZKY
It’s a new start for Cornell volleyball. The team entered the second half of conference competition when the Red traveled to New York City to face the Columbia Lions for the second time in one month. Recently against Ivy League opponents, Cornell has started the match strong, taking the first set only to lose momentum and drop the match. Last time the Red played Columbia this was that exact pattern. Cornell took the first set handily 25-21 only to lose the next three. This time, however, the pattern was interrupted.
“I think what really helped us was thinking about this second round as a fresh start,” said junior Macey Wilson. “We felt like we had a new chance to prove ourselves to everyone.”
Cornell dropped the first set, 25-18. After remaining close for most of the set, the Lions went on a five point run, forcing a side-out at 20-18 and taking the next five to end the set.
The second set was another dog-fight, but this time it was the visitors who went on a run to pull away. Cornell and Columbia were neck and neck at 12-11 until Wilson and freshman Carla Sganderlla each slammed down a kill to get some separation. Columbia couldn’t regain the lead, and Cornell took the second set 25-18.
The third set was no contest. Cornell pulled away, behind Sganderlla’s standout hitting performance. Eventually the lead went to the Red 20-12, and though Columbia got close, Cornell clinched the win, 25-18.
The Red faltered in the fourth set and allowed the Lions to get some confidence back. The two teams traded leads late in the game, but it was the Lions who took the final point on a devastating kill by Columbia superstar Anja Malesevic.
It all came down to the final set. The energy was high in Levien Gymnasium, and the match reflected it. There were lead changes constantly, up until the score was tied at 12-12, but two kills from sophomore Emily Wemhoff and a final kill from Wilson ended the match.
The victory was Cornell’s first win in the Ivy League. The Red has six games left in the regular season, and currently are at the bottom of the standings.
“Coming into the Columbia game, we had a solid game plan which we did a good job of executing,” said sophomore defensive specialist Chelsea Sincox. “Overall, we passed pretty well, and we were able to run a balanced offense. Additionally, we did a good job defensively, on the block as well as picking up the balls behind them. The big difference this time around was a confidence and a determination to win that wasn’t there the first round of Ivies. Even when Columbia won the two sets, we held our composure.”
Those statements were echoed by head coach Trudy Vande Berg.”
“We played well as a team versus Columbia and adjusted well to what they were doing,” Vande Berg said. “The best part is that we stayed aggressive throughout the entire match. Even when things weren’t going our way, we remained calm and went after it. The entire team was 100 percent involved, which is always good to see. We really needed a win. We have been so close and have played well in our previous losses. [We just needed] that boost of confidence for the second half of Ivy play. I know that the team is committed to getting better every day, it’s great to see a positive result.”
With another weekend full of Ivy games, Cornell has a chance to move up in the standings and make a statement to the rest of the league.
“Going into this weekend with Brown and Yale, we can look to be pressured a lot more in our serve and pass game,” Sincox said. “If we can serve and pass aggressively, I think we could get two more wins at home this weekend.”