Women’s volleyball travelled to New England over the weekend to take on Dartmouth and Harvard, where an assertive Cornell won both games by a margin of three sets to one — extending its winning streak to three games and record in conference play to 7-3.
First squaring off against Dartmouth on Friday, the Red quickly dominated the leaderboards, winning the first two matches 25-17 and 25-15. Cornell fell during the third match, 17-25, but easily recovered to secure victory with a 25-17 fourth game win.
The Red then managed to replicate its success when it came time to face Harvard the next day.
Cornell won its first game 25-19, but an undeterred Crimson fought to win the second game by a lopsided 13-25 margin. Yet the Red didn’t lose its footing, and went on to win the third game 25-19 and the final fourth 25-15.
The strength by which Cornell dispatched two strong conference rivals can be attributed to a number of deliberate changes, according to head coach Trudy Vande Berg.
“We have worked a lot on getting better, more consistent and confident in pressure situations and on the road,” she said. “The mental side of the game has been a priority for us as we know that we can match up with anyone in the conference physically.”
Those improvements have so far paid off, with the Red’s current conference record a marked improvement on last year’s 8-6 tally.
“A big lesson we have learned this season is that we are in control of our matches and the outcomes,” added sophomore setter Zoe Chamness. “The way that we play on our side of the net, the extent to which we stick to the game plan and the energy and attitude we bring to the games are all factors that determine whether we win or lose a game.”
Cornell’s hitting proficiency was also a major driver of the squad’s success. The Red landed 51 kills against Dartmouth’s 39, while scoring a .212 hitting percentage. Similarly, against Harvard, Cornell had 8 more kills than the Crimson, while making .272 of its hits compared to Harvard’s .120. The Red also easily exceeded both teams in digs, assists, aces, and overall points.
“My own personal goals have centered a lot around technique for certain skills here and there, along with the hopes of helping contribute to our team winning the Ivy League Championship,” said junior outside hitter Samanta Arenas, who has consistently contributed the most kills for Cornell.
Outside of this weekend’s success, the Red has competed forcefully within the Ivy conference, losing only three games against Yale, Princeton, and Penn. The Bulldogs currently own a 9-1 record, while the Tigers are up 8-2 — making both teams Cornell’s biggest obstacles in claiming a league title, or at the very least, improving on last year’s fourth place finish.
“When we are in system, we are tough to play against. We did a much better job this past weekend of that and it showed. We also served really well and got Dartmouth and Harvard out of system most of the match,” said Vande Berg, confident that the team owns the fundamentals needed to remain a conference force.
Cornell will look to continue its Ivy League winning streak at home next weekend against Penn on Friday at 7 p.m. and Princeton on Saturday at 5 p.m.