The Cornell women’s volleyball team has struggled to maintain a positive conference record so far this season, but there is plenty of Ivy play yet to take place. The Red currently shares sixth place with Brown among the Ancient Eight, and the team is hoping to improve its record against Columbia this weekend.
In the Red’s last showing against Columbia earlier in the season, the team managed to take the Lions to a heated fifth set but lost out in the end, 2-3. Knowing it was within reach to secure the win, the Red is looking to bounce back in Newman Arena.
“We have to stay aggressive in pressure situations,” said head coach Trudy Vande Berg. “Being careful rarely works in our favor.”
Cornell (8-9, 2-5 Ivy) came out of the gate with guns blazing, defeating Columbia in the first set 25-14. Immediately after, they secured another victory, 25-22, before taking their 10 minute intermission. Unfortunately, the Big Red girls were facing a much more focused and fierce Columbia team when returning for the remaining sets.
The Lions took the Red to a drawn out 27-25 third set victory to set their comeback tone. Columbia then proceeded to keep the Red at bay throughout the fourth set with another close 25-21 victory. In the final set, the Lions were on fire and took down Cornell, 15-9.
“Regarding adjustments for Columbia, it goes back to being mentally tough, which is what we have worked on consistently in practice,” said sophomore outside hitter Carla Sganderlla. “We know what each team’s style of play is, so we just have to execute our gameplan to win.”
Junior Kiley McPeek said she believes her team needs to focus on honing their strengths, rather than becoming deterred by the strength of any opponent.
“I think the main thing is just focusing on the skills on our side of the net,” McPeek said. “We learned that we can stick with teams and have what it takes, but we need to figure out how to close out those tight matches. This is something we will really be focusing on when playing [Columbia] a second time.”
This time around, the Red will have home court advantage, so Cornell fans can help cheer the team on to a win. Additionally, having a game under their belt against the Lions sets the Red up for a chance for revenge. Columbia is currently tied for second with Yale in the Ivy League, so earning this victory would shake up the volleyball standings.
“I think something we have taken away so far this season is how competitive our team can be,” McPeek said. “We know that we have the skills to be a great team so in these remaining Ivy matches it will be really important for us to showcase this and end the season on a high note.”
Cornell can certainly end its season on a high note if the team can create a trend of success from here on out. The Red defeated Harvard last weekend in Cambridge, 3-2, which has inspired the team to stay sharp.
“If we continue to stay disciplined and focused and fight until the last point, we should have a successful week,” Vande Berg. “[The team] continues to work hard every day. They are very competitive and they keep pushing each other to get better.”
Each game is crucial to molding a positive record this season and hopefully improving their rank among the other Ivies. The rematch between the Red and the Lions will commence on Oct. 22 at 2 p.m. in Newman Arena.