With the hopes of continuing a solid winning streak from last weekend, Cornell volleyball made the trek east this weekend but won just one set en route to losses in both contests.
The Red fell to both Penn (12-9, 7-5 Ivy) and Princeton (16-6, 9-3) this weekend by scores of 3-1 and 3-0 respectively — a stark contrast to Cornell’s 3-1 sweep of the same squads at home just three weeks prior.
“We started off pretty slow against Penn and took a while to find our rhythm,” said head coach Trudy Vande Berg. “By then Penn was on a roll.”
“I knew we had to come out firing on all cylinders against [Princeton] and we just couldn’t get a string of points going against them,” she added.
Sophomore hitter Samanta Arenas looked to the team’s mental approach on the road as an Achilles heel in dropping the matches this past weekend. Including the losses to Penn and Princeton, Cornell is 1-8 playing on the road as opposed to 7-1 playing at home.
“[Both teams] played exactly as we expected them too,” she said. “I don’t think we had the confidence to start off against these teams because we had it stuck in our heads that we normally do poorly on the road.”
Despite the losses, the Red did not give up without a fight. In both Philadelphia and Princeton, Cornell started off slow before bouncing back toward the end of each game.
At Penn, Cornell lost the first set by a score of 25-12 but then came back to the second set with renewed energy, only losing 25-22.
The Red then won the third set by the same margin as Penn won the second, but ultimately dropped a hard-fought final set, 26-24, and thereby the match.
A similar situation occurred at Princeton, with Cornell losing the first set, 25-16, before holding slightly tougher for the second and third sets, 25-21 and 25-17, respectively.
“Once the game[s] continued on, we realized that there wasn’t anything to be afraid and that the teams were not doing anything we haven’t seen before, so we started to pick up our fight,” Arenas said.
Arenas also pointed to two of her teammates in particular who led the charge in the marginal comeback efforts.
“Kiley McPeek and Chelsea Sincox both poured their heart outs in these two matches this past weekend,” Arenas said. “Especially since it was their last away games before they graduate, I think they exuded their passion and positivity really well this weekend.”
This upcoming weekend marks the end of the season for Cornell, with Yale and Brown venturing to Ithaca to battle against the Red in Newman Arena. Cornell beat Brown 3-1, and lost to Yale by the same score when the team traveled to New England in October.
“We will prepare for them as we prepare for all of the teams we play,” Vande Berg said. “Brown … [is] playing with confidence right now. Yale is tied for first with Princeton right now so [they] have a lot on the line this weekend and will be ready to go.”
With plenty to play for — both emotionally and to play spoiler — five Cornell seniors will have the chance to finish their collegiate careers on a high note on Senior Day.
“It’s our last weekend and we want to send our seniors out with a bang so we will be ready to battle,” Vande Berg said.