Cornell volleyball ended its season on a high note this past weekend, defeating both Yale, in first place at the time, as well as Brown. The two victories ensured Cornell’s perfect Ivy home record in the 2017 season.
The Red downed Yale, 3-0, and topped Brown, 3-2, moving its overall record to 12-11 and its Ivy League mark to 8-6. With the two wins, the team tied Harvard for third in the Ivy League — its best finish since 2006.
The Red played both teams on the road a little over a month ago, beating Brown but coming up short against Yale. That previous defeat at the hands of the Bulldogs pushed Cornell to work particularly hard for vengeance.
“The first time we played them we were up in every set up until the end,” said head coach Trudy Vande Berg. “We have worked a lot on closing out sets and making good choices in pressure situations.”
“I think that our win against Yale this weekend really came down to our mentality, attitude and energy,” added sophomore setter Zoe Chamness. “We wanted the win and went out there as if there was no other option but to give it our everything.”
Although Cornell was ultimately successful in both games, neither win was easy with each of the opposing teams brought its own strengths into Bartels. But the Red was ready.
“Yale is a very fast-paced team that plays every point like they’ll be featured in a highlight reel. Brown is the complete opposite, and they brought the pace down a lot more than Yale did,” said sophomore outside hitter Samanta Arenas. “This makes it a little more difficult to keep your side at a faster pace, but we did a good job of worrying about our own side to execute.”
The two victories not only marked the end of the season, but the final game for all of the Cornell seniors. Emily Wemhoff, Kiley McPeek, Kit McCarty, Chelsea Sincox and Maddy Sroufe may have finished their collegiate careers, but they definitely went out in style.
“McCarty was a powerhouse for us this weekend with not only her play, but also her attitude and desire to win,” Chamness said. “Kiley also had a ‘nothing hits the floor’ mentality in the back row and brought a ton of energy to the team.”
“Our seniors really brought their A-games for their final weekend,” Vande Berg added. “Kiley and Kit took over in the fifth set vs. Brown, and we were struggling in the previous two sets.”
In the end, the Red has much to be proud of, perhaps best evidenced by its strong finish in the Ivy standings.
“We came into this season with big goals and those big goals led us to a winning record and a better finish in the Ivy’s than we have had in quite a while,” Chamness said. “Being undefeated in the league on our home court is a huge accomplishment that I am incredibly proud of.”
While the Red may have had lofty expectations for the 2017 season, the team was still incredibly vulnerable on the road, winning just one match away from Newman Arena.
Despite that, the team hopes to take the progress realized in its home showings as it prepares for an even better 2018 season.
“We definitely changed the culture this season in the conference in how other teams view competing against us,” Arenas said. “We’re not the underdogs anymore and we came in third, and that really changes teams’ attitudes when they play us.”
And even after such a successful end to the season, Vande Berg and the returning members of the team are already looking forward to next season.
“We will continue to work very hard, be the hardest working team in the Ivies,” Vande Berg said.
“Our block and defense will continue to improve, and I’m hoping that our offense will follow suit,”
Chamness took it one step farther.
“Our goal next year is of course to come out strong and win an Ivy League championship,” she said. “This spring we will be focusing on rebuilding after losing our fantastic seniors and working on mental toughness and consistency. We proved ourselves this year by beating every team in our league, our next step is having no let downs throughout the season.”