The Red made the long trek to Valparaiso, Indiana, last weekend to compete in the Crusader Classic, where it took on Midwest opponents Valparaiso, Wright State and Western Illinois.
Cornell (5-5) took to the court on Friday afternoon to take on Valparaiso (10-2). Though the Red was ultimately bested by the Crusaders in four sets (25-15, 25-20, 22-25, 25-20), it put up a valiant effort to come back from a 2-0 deficit to win the third set and put pressure on the hosts. The Crusaders responded to the pressure, however, and senior captain Carla Sganderlla’s 12 kills and sophomore Zoe Chamness’ double-double of 20 assists and 15 digs were not enough to prevent a Valparaiso victory.
The Red returned to play Saturday morning as it squared off against Wright State (8-3). Cornell traded sets with the Raiders forcing the game to five sets (11-25, 26-24, 23-25, 25-17, 10-15), but Wright State got out to a 4-0 lead early in the fifth set that it never relinquished.
Critical to the Red’s effort were 14 kills from junior Jenna Phelps and 11 each from sophomore Lauren Stubbs and junior Samanta Arenas. Juniors Lily Barber and Katie Randolph had 27 and 17 digs, respectively.
Determined not to leave the Midwest without a win, the Red stormed to victory against Western Illinois, sweeping the Leathernecks (1-12) in three sets. The decisive victory was the combined effort of a very deep Cornell team that saw five different players record at least six kills.
“This weekend we started to play as a team and for each other,” Phelps said. “We made sure we’d come together after every play and make eye contact. We made sure we were there for each other.”
Sganderlla led the way once again with 12 kills, while the lethal duo of Phelps and junior Jada Stackhouse had 13 kills together. Freshman Madison Baptiste recorded her first double-double of her career with 10 kills and 11 digs. Barber tallied 20 digs en route to earning All-Tournament honors.
The Red will look to continue playing as a unit as it hits the road once again to open up Ivy League play. Cornell takes on Columbia (6-4) at 2 p.m. Saturday in New York.
“I think the added pressure of Ivies will help us really zone in and focus,” Phelps said.