Although Cornell volleyball opened Ivy play with a decisive win against Columbia last weekend, the victory did not come without its hiccups. The Red just barely won the first set, 27-25, and lost the second, 26-24, only to rally and resoundingly win the third and fourth sets, 25-19 and 25-18, respectively.
“We knew we were in control of the match and just needed to settle down and play our game,” said head coach Trudy Vande Berg. “We took a deep breath and started over and executed.”
Now, Cornell (5-5, 1-0 Ivy) will look to build off the momentum of the last two sets against the Lions as it hopes to continue Ivy play undefeated when it travels to Harvard (6-4, 1-0) and Dartmouth (4-6, 0-1) this coming weekend.
Despite starting Ivy play with a win, Cornell knows it will face a big challenge when the team hits the road for the first time against conference rivals.
“Both [teams] are tough on the road,” Vande Berg said. “Harvard has been very good the past few seasons and are always confident in their own gym.”
On top of that, Cornell knows that the lineup Harvard throws out on the court has the potential to do some serious damage.
“Both middles from Harvard are very good,” Vande Berg said. “We need to keep them under control.”
One example of a strong middle for the Crimson comes in the form of Maclaine Fields, who had eight kills against the Red when Cornell travelled to Cambridge last year. Complimenting Fields are Jocelyn Meyer and Christina Cornelius, who each notched nine and eight kills, respectively, against the Red during the match on East Hill last season.
In preparation for the Harvard attack, Vande Berg said that she has “been working with our middles to get them more involved in transition,” hoping to stymie the trio of solid Crimson middles.
Whereas Harvard will boast much of the same lineup as last year, Dartmouth’s roster is full of newcomers to the program. Luckily for Cornell, the Green’s second and third highest scorers in the game against the Red last year, Emily Astarita and Sara Lindquist, have both since graduated.
“Lots of new faces at Dartmouth,” Vande Berg said, “so we’ll see what happens there.”
Cornell can rest assured that in spite of some injuries, numerous players have stepped up in the meantime. Vande Berg pointed to reigning Ivy Player of the Week Emily Wemhoff and Kit McCarty as individuals to watch heading into the second weekend of Ivy play.
“Emily and Kit have been great all week again,” Vande Berg said. “Hopefully everyone will come to play.”
Wemhoff and McCarty had 23 and eight kills, respectively, in the Red’s Ivy opener against Columbia last weekend, and the two have amassed 259.5 collective points so far.
Last weekend’s meeting against Columbia may, however, be quite different from the matches coming up against Dartmouth and Harvard. Columbia typically has a very scrappy playstyle, specializing in long rallies with digs to keep the ball in play.
But according to Vande Berg, “neither [Harvard nor Dartmouth] are like Columbia. Both like to take big swings and end rallies early. If we execute in the long rallies we should be successful.”
First serve is set to take place Friday at 7 p.m. against Harvard, then again at 5 p.m. Saturday in Hanover.