After posting a ho-hum 12-11 record in 2017, Cornell volleyball has its sights set on an Ivy League championship in 2018. To top the conference, the Red will need to vastly improve its performance away from Ithaca.
Sophomore outside hitter Lauren Stubbs said an Ivy League championship is the team’s primary goal. The Red hopes its first step to success this season will come in its season opener on Friday night against Buffalo in the Cornell Invitational.
“Overall, the team is looking to improve our record, especially on the road, with the end goal of winning the Ivy League,” Stubbs said.
Improving its record away from home will be a key focus for the Red — the team had a 9-1 home record and 1-8 road record last season. Four of Cornell’s first five Ivy League matches will be at home this season before a road-heavy October and November.
Head coach Trudy Vande Berg, the reigning Ivy League coach of the year, said the team is focusing on its mindset entering the new season.
“[We] worked a lot in the offseason on working through situations mentally as a team and individually,” Vande Berg said.
Back from injury, senior Carla Sganderlla will play a key role for the Red this season as a leader on and off the court, according to Stubbs. Sganderlla led the team in kills in both her freshman and sophomore seasons, and had the Ivy League’s third-best mark in service aces per set in 2016. She suffered a season-ending injury just two matches into the 2017 season.
“I think Carla will be a predominant leader of the team this year, especially as it is her senior season,” Stubbs said. “The team already looks up to her and relies on her leadership, and I think this will only become more pronounced as we get further into the season.”
Replacing graduating seniors will be a tough task for Cornell — the team lost some of its most talented players. However, this year’s roster does feature a good deal of upperclassman leadership, as 12 of the team’s 22 athletes are juniors or seniors.
All-Ivy League first team selection Kiley McPeek ’18 and Ivy honorable mention recipient Kit McCarty ’18 are two of the Red’s key offseason losses.
However, six freshmen recently joined the team, adding fresh skills and quickly bringing their talents to Ithaca, Vande Berg said.
“I couldn’t be happier with how the freshmen are playing right now,” Vande Berg said. “They are big and physical so they are adding an entire new dimension to drills and play.”
Vande Berg and her team is excited for the season to get underway.
“We are looking ready to go,” she said. “We had a couple scrimmages this past weekend which was great because we got to look at where we are and can fix [or] adjust this week in practice so they won’t be a weakness against Buffalo on Friday.”
Cornell hosts Buffalo in its season opener at 7 p.m. Friday at Newman Arena. The Red is back in action Sept. 1.