By OLIVIA MATTYASOVSZKY
The Cornell volleyball team had a chance to face the New England duo of Brown University and Yale University again this weekend. This time around, the Bears and the Bulldogs came to the Red’s home turf in Newman Arena.
“Yale and Brown are the most opposite teams in the Ivy league so preparation for both matches was very different,” said head coach Trudy Vande Berg. “Yale is physical and we needed to match that and we did for the first four sets. Brown is a scrappy team and they aren’t as physical but they are great volleyball players.”
Yale, currently in third place in the Ivy League standings, came into the match with a 5-3 conference record. Cornell, after winning its first Ivy game the weekend before, entered the match with a 1-7 conference record. With the momentum from its win, Cornell started the match off on the right foot, winning the first set, 25-22.
Throughout that first set, both teams were giving it their all. Each team held the lead at various points and it was truly a back-and-forth game. However, the Bulldogs found their footing and in the next two sets, were able to claw their way to a match advantage with two scores of 25-23. The fourth set went to the Red on a nail-biter in extra points. Cornell took it, 27-25, and forced it to a fifth-set tiebreaker. Despite Cornell’s momentum from that last exciting set, the Bulldogs took the final set, 15-8.
Cornell and Yale were tied for kills, slamming down 58 apiece. Yale led the home team in hitting errors, making mistakes on 26 versus Cornell’s 24. However, it was the service game and defensive stops that pushed Yale over the edge on the win. The Bulldogs aced seven serves and kept up the heat the entire match. Three Yale players put up more than 20 digs, which meant that even though Cornell’s hitters were playing at the top of their games, their hits were not enough to get past a Bulldog defensive line of Kate Swanson, Kelly Johnson and Karlee Fuller.
Though they were stymied in the end by the Bulldogs tough defenders, the Cornell front row gave a record-setting performance. Freshman hitter Carla Sganderlla had a career night, notching 20 kills and adding 18 digs on the defensive side.
“We all were taken back by the loss against Yale because it’s the second time we were so close to winning, but fell short,” Sganderlla said. “We all knew that we were going to take that feeling of losing and flip it around to try to win against Brown. Having gone 0-3 against Brown the first time, we weren’t going to let that happen again.”
The next day, Brown came to Newman. After losing to the Bears earlier in the season, 0-3, the Cornell team was looking to get another win in the Ivy League.
“We know Brown is the type of team to be really scrappy and continue to send the ball back over, which was something we had to do as well,” Sganderlla said.
According to Coach Vande Berg, the difference in this game would have to be composure.
“We needed to keep our composure until the end and we did, with the exception of the third set,” she said. “Maddy and Carla did a great job staying aggressive throughout the entire match and I think Kit McCarty came in the fourth set and was really a momentum changer for us.”
Cornell lost the first set to Brown, 23-25, but changed directions and took the second set, 25-22. The third set belonged to the Bears, who won, 25-11. The fourth set was another close one, but Cornell pulled ahead by three with momentum from McCarty, who had three kills on the match at a crucial time, giving the Red a push. The tie-breaking fifth set went to Cornell and ended on two kills by Sganderlla, who once again led the team in kills, this time with 22. She also added another 18 digs.
Junior Macey Wilson attributes the win on Saturday to the determination to win the Red felt after losing to Yale.
“Losing to Yale was really hard because we were so close and if a few balls fell a different way, we would have won,” she said. “That really motivated us to work harder and beat Brown. We really want to come into the second round and beat teams that no one expected us to beat.”