The 2017 rendition of Cornell volleyball had an abysmal record away from Ithaca. But this season the Red got off to a strong start on the road, besting Columbia in four sets.
The Red (6-5, 1-0 Ivy) rallied together after trailing the Lions (6-5, 0-1 Ivy) 19-16 in the first set to come back to win the set, 25-23. Cornell then cruised to take the next set, 25-18.
But the hosts refused to go down without a fight and won the next set, 25-22. Maintaining its composure under pressure, the Red then battled to victory, defeating Columbia, 27-25, in a tight fourth set.
“I loved that although we had our ups and downs, we didn’t let it get into our heads,” said head coach Trudy Vande Berg. “Columbia made a few big plays at the end of set four and we kept calm and aggressive. We hadn’t done that the last few weekends.”
Showcasing its deep roster, Cornell had a variety of players that were crucial to its conference win. Senior captain Carla Sganderlla had a monster game for the Red, tallying 20 kills and 12 digs. Freshmen Jill Bennett and Avery Hanan joined Sganderlla with double-digit kills, recording 12 and 10, respectively.
Sophomore Zoe Chamness and junior Lily Barber also posted double-digit digs. Chamness also had a whopping 35 assists, while junior Katie Randolph had 13.
Junior powerhouse blockers Jada Stackhouse and Jenna Phelps also came up big for the Red, with Stackhouse tallying eight blocks and Phelps adding three of her own along with eight kills.
“The main takeaways from that match were finding our rhythm as a team and staying composed in pressure situations,” Sganderlla said. “Even when we were down a couple points, I always felt like we were in control, which came from us playing together the whole time.”
The road win marks a stark contrast from the Red’s away record last year when it dropped every Ivy game on the road.
“It was super important to start off with a win in the Ivy League, especially a win on the road,” Sganderlla said. “We struggled on the road last year, so I think it was important to prove to ourselves as well as the other Ivy teams that we’ve improved since last year.”
The Red will take a break from the road this weekend, however, as they head back to Newman Arena to face Harvard at 7 p.m. Friday and Dartmouth at 5 p.m. Saturday.
“We will continue to work on playing under pressure and executing in tight situations,” Vande Berg said. “Both matches are going to be battles this weekend and we have to stay aggressive until the last ball drops.”