With the sun shining, at least for the moment, and students returning to campus, the streets of Ithaca have regressed to their natural hum. Cornell is back in session, and with a new semester just starting, it also spells the time that the volleyball team looks to improve upon their 6-18 (2-12 Ivy) record from last season.
Hoping for a fresh start, head coach Trudy Vande Berg is optimistic about the team’s efforts before the season gets underway.
“They are doing great,” Vande Berg said. “I feel that it has been a smooth transition and they are learning the system quickly. They are all great players and are pushing the returners to be even better.”
Last year the team started their season out strong in the West Point Tournament by winning the first game against William and Mary in a five-set thriller. They then cleaned up Iona College in straight sets right after, but ultimately lost their first game of the season in the finals against Army.
As for big games to look forward to this semester, Vande Berg has already started marketing the big match against Colgate.
“We are giving out pizza to the first 100 students who attend,” she said.
That showdown will take place, on September 2nd, serving as the second match in a double header at home. The team is also looking forward to Harvard, of course, and Yale as well as the season unwinds.
The start of any new chapter accompanies the closing of another, as this year will be the last season for two of the team’s special players: setter Alyssa Phelps and middle blocker Macey Wilson.
“They want to see success,” Vande Berg said about the current seniors. “They have both worked so hard and have done so much for the program. They want to leave a stamp on the program and they are doing everything they can to ensure that.”
Vande Berg stresses that the team is on the cusp of a real revival. All that is left to accomplish is taking hold of the opportunity.
“I really want to see the turnaround come to fruition,” she said. “We were so close in so many matches last year and we do not want that feeling again.”
This year, the team parted with just one senior, so the remaining players have gotten a good feel for working with one another.
“We have the potential to be very good this year,” Vande Berg said. “I want our student-athletes to feel confident in that.”
The Red starts competition next Friday as they take on James Madison at 5:00 pm, and Colgate at 7:00 p.m., both at home.