While most of the campus will be enjoying a much-needed fall break, the Cornell volleyball team will be engaged in another Ivy League scuffle, gearing up to face Penn and Princeton this weekend.
The team will look to finally get some momentum going after a string of conference losses last weekend. The 5-7 team will aim to finally get into the swing of things and attempt to snap a four-game losing streak as the midway point of Ivy competition nears.
“They are very, very different teams,” said head coach Trudy Vande Berg said of the matchups. “Penn runs a lot of different plays and angles at you. Princeton runs a few plays but runs them very well. We have to control what we can control and be ready for anything.”
Acknowledging the prowesses and strength of the Ivy foes, the women of Cornell volleyball welcome the challenge and are excited to see how their practice pays off this weekend.
“Both Penn and Princeton will be tough competition, but we’ve been preparing all season for specific scenarios that will really help our playing these more challenging teams,” said freshman outside hitter Samantha Arenas. “We recognize the potential we have for the season, and I’m extremely excited to see how we’ll be able to translate that into the matches this weekend.”
Newman Arena will be full of fierce competition all weekend, beginning with the 7-8 Quakers on Friday. The squad will voyage to Ithaca with a 2-1 record in Ivy League competition, presenting Cornell with the chance to clinch their first conference victory of the season.
“I am expecting these matches to be very competitive,” said junior Kiley McPeek. “We have been working hard in practice to prepare, but also working on executing the skills on our side of the net. We have been preparing to play some tough volleyball this weekend.”
The team is trying to rebound after tough 3-1 and 3-2 losses to Brown and Yale, respectively, last weekend.
“We need to have a killer instinct late in sets,” Vande Berg said. “We have let some teams off the hook this year and we need to change our mindset and be determined to win those close ones.”
Mental fixes, in addition to a killer instinct, will be key for the women going forward.
“We’ll have adjustments to make in our skill sets because we can always get better, but our problems primarily lie in our mentality as a team and as individuals,” Arenas said. “Any game that we have lost has not been because the other team has beat us in kills, digs, service aces, blocks, or any other skills. What we need to focus on is working under pressure situations because we have struggled finishing close matches under high pressure situations”
The Tigers are stringing together a very polished season; they are 3-0 in Ivy League competition and are journeying to the Hill after a convincing win at Dartmouth last weekend. Despite Princeton’s success, the buildup is different for the Red when facing off against an Ivy rival.
“I think there is a different energy in the Ivy League matches because there is always more rivalry within the Ivy League,” McPeek said. “Each team in the league is very different, but always exciting to play. Since we get to play each team twice every year we get really familiar with the teams, which makes it even that much more fun when everything comes together.”
“They have to believe, in each other and themselves,” Vande Berg added.