Emma Hoarty / Sun Staff Photographer

Although the team dropped two of its three games this weekend, the group is confident heading into Ivy play.

September 18, 2017

After Dropping 2 of 3 at Colgate, Volleyball Knows It Needs Work Ahead of Ivy Play

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Playing in the Colgate Invitational, Cornell volleyball came away with just one victory in three tries. The Red rallied on Friday for a tight 3-2 victory against La Salle (9-6), but fell 3-1 to Stony Brook (8-6) and 3-0 to Colgate (9-3) on Saturday. The two losses sunk Cornell below the .500-mark with its overall record now sitting at 4-5.

The subpar weekend comes after a strong showing in last weekend’s Cornell Invitational, and the Red’s weaknesses began to emerge Friday and Saturday at Colgate. Now, the team will begin to assess its faults, still cognizant of the many positives that have been on display in the early stages of the season.

The defense, for example, proved to be dominant, outscoring its opponents in blocks, 23- 22, while putting up 216 digs along the way. Senior captain Kiley McPeek provided the team with strong defensive skills, with 60 of the team’s 216 digs. Sophomore Jada Stackhouse also stuck out with an impressive 10 blocks throughout the tournament, again proving her dominance at the net.

“We had people going up and taking some big swings and making great plays that show what the team can do,” McPeek said.

Senior captain Kit McCarty had a strong performance throughout the weekend as well, earning a spot on the All-Tournament team. Joining her was junior captain Kara Rogers, who put up 25 kills and a handful of digs in the three games to exemplify her diverse skillset on the court. Senior captain Emily Wemhoff also joined in on the fun with 35 kills to her name.

“Kit McCarty was in a great rhythm this weekend and took some amazing swings,” said head coach Trudy Vande Berg. “It was great to see us beat LaSalle when we all knew that we weren’t playing very well. We found a way to win, and that’s what good teams do.”

For the second straight tournament, there was a noticeable absence: junior captain Carla Sganderlla, who is now officially out for the remainder of the season with an injury. Her absence will force the team to fill a large gap, and so far, players have been stepping up and taking on roles that may be unfamiliar to them.

“[With Sganderlla] out for the season, the team has done great and is very supportive of each other,” Vande Berg said. “Others have had to step up and it’s been fun to watch.”

But after losing two of three over the weekend, the team is in search of some necessary adjustments.

“We are looking to focus on the small details that we need to clean up,” McPeek said. “We just have a couple little things that if we clean them up, things will really come together.”

“We just need to stay focused and learn during the match so, when we are in a pressure situation, we know what is coming,” Vande Berg added.

While heckling from opposing crowds might be an obstacle for some teams, the Red uses the hostile environment as ammunition and motivation.

“Playing on the road impacts all teams, but I think we handled it well,” Sganderlla said. “Our last game we had to deal with 60 Colgate students yelling at us constantly. I think crowds like that actually fuel us to play better.”

Although Sganderlla will not be playing in upcoming games against Ivy League competitors, she does believe that the team will be a threat in in the Ivy League.

“Despite going 1-2 this weekend, we were able to turn those losses into a learning experience and use it to be better for our Ivy League games coming up,” she said. “As a team, I know we are ready to handle any team in the Ivy League.”

The first test comes this weekend, as the Red kicks off Ivy League play at home Saturday against Columbia.