This transcript has been lightly edited for content and clarity
Sun staff writer Smita Nalluri spoke with senior co-captains Carla Sganderlla and Kara Rogers to discuss Cornell women’s volleyball and their upcoming season. Sganderlla and Rogers gave thoughts on the 2017-18 season, expanding their team chemistry, and a catchy new motto.
Smita Nalluri: What are the main takeaways from last season?
Carla Sganderlla: The main takeaway from last season is to continue the upward trend we’ve had in the Ivy League the past couple of years. We’ve been able to continue improving — going from finishing eigth in 2015 to third last season. This is our year to show other schools in the Ivy League that Cornell Volleyball is a competitor for the Ivy title.
Kara Rogers: Last year we went undefeated at home against every Ivy League team. This year, we want to take the style of play that we had at home on the road with us. In our gym, we played confident and disciplined and we were a well-oiled machine. If we do this during away games as well, we should be very successful.
S.N.: After graduating a strong senior class last year, how is the chemistry of the team this season?
C.S.: The chemistry of the team is still very strong regardless of graduating so many seniors. They left a strong legacy behind that enabled the current senior class to step in and maintain the chemistry, which, in my opinion, is visible on the court and not always present with certain teams. The six freshmen that came in also quickly joined in on maintaining such a strong relationship between the team.
K.R.: Although we’ll miss our seniors dearly, the chemistry this year is just as strong. We have some great freshmen this year, and the returners communicate extremely well and we all trust each other on the court. We are really focusing on holding each other accountable this season.
S.N.: Have you guys made any significant changes, either physical or mental, to your game since last season?
C.S.: I wouldn’t say we’ve made significant changes, but we’ve definitely tried to improve as a team both mentally and physically. Physically, I think we pushed ourselves in the spring in position practices as well as team lifts. We knew that every hour of work we put in would help us in season. Over the summer, we continued with that mentality and came back in great shape/ready to play.
Mentally, we’ve really focused on having a positive attitude. Volleyball is a game of errors and it’s easy to get discouraged, but our team has such great chemistry that we help each other out. That’s what’s amazing about this team. Last season, our away record wasn’t where we wanted it to be, so I’m looking forward to implementing our positive attitude these next three weekends to see what we as a team can do to improve.
K.R.: We want to make things consistent this year to ensure our at home and away play go hand in hand. We’re in great physical shape after working hard this spring and summer, so now we really want to find a stable and strong mental state that we can have both away and at home.
S.N.: How did you guys come up with “As One” for your team motto this year?
K.R.: Our “as one” motto comes from the idea that we all want to take our teammates with us. Everyone has to be on the same page. We all have to be 100 percent in to win a match and an Ivy League Championship. This includes our starters and those on the bench. If someone is excelling in practice or in a game on a particular day, we want them to bring everyone else with them and get the entire team on the same level that they’re on. It will take all 22 of us to do something great this season.
C.S.: Sophia [Beaudoin], a junior on our team, brought it up at our first team meeting. She was describing the idea of bringing your teammates with you on and off the court. This motto was quickly supported by all the players and coaches. Since every year we put a motto on a shirt, we shortened the saying to “As One” and have been following that motto since the season started.
We also came up with “253” which is all of our numbers added together and I think that’s cool because it really exemplifies the “As One” mentality. We are a team of 22 which is pretty big for a normal D1 volleyball team, so I think this is a strong mentality to have because we’re going to need everyone’s full support.
S.N.: What are your goals for the season?
C.S.: Some of our goals for this season are to win the Ivy League, win every Ivy home game and improve our away record. We also have some statistical goals for the season such as increasing our number of digs per set, improving our overall hitting percentage as a team, and improving our block percentage.
K.R.: Our end goal this season is to win an Ivy League Championship and make it to the NCAA Tournament… We have a real special group of girls this year that love each other and work insanely hard. We’re ready to do something special.