Following last year’s second consecutive third-place finish, Cornell volleyball is looking to step up its play and further improve to the top of Ivy League. The team has not finished higher than third since 2006, when it came in first in the league.
“I’m really excited about this season and everybody came back in really good shape,” head coach Trudy Vande Berg said. “We’re just very focused on … what we want to accomplish while still knowing there’s a process to it. It’s just been fun to coach this team.”
The Red only has one week of preseason training, while most other programs have two weeks. This makes their summer training even more vital to an effective, abbreviated preseason.
The players came back to campus immediately ready to get back into the swing of things this fall. The team’s drive is demonstrated in its intense preseason practices and in the work the players have put in over the summer.
“We give them a workout. They don’t have to do it, but they do it,” Vande Berg said. “It’s more than holding each other accountable because they want to have a great season.”
While the team worked hard physically over the offseason, they also strived to improve their mental physique.
“We worked with a sports psychologist through the offseason and we’re going to work with him throughout the season,” said Vande Berg.
Using a sports psychologist as a resource will help the athletes increase their confidence, focus and composure throughout the season and advance their overall level of play.
To kick off the season before Ivy play begins, the Red will compete in three non-league tournaments. The first of these will be the Cornell Invitational on September 6 and 7. Ivy League play will start on September 28 at home against Columbia — the Red will play only in-league matches from that point until the end of the season.
They will face off against each Ivy competitor both home and away. Last year, Cornell’s record was 9-5, earning it third place after Yale (13-1) and Princeton (12-2).
“Everyone has brought in some good players so I think the level of the league is getting better,” Vande Berg said. “Princeton only graduated one person and they returned everyone else. Yale graduated a few great players but they always do a great job recruiting and bringing in good players.”
The Red both retained proven veterans and brought in four promising freshmen. Cornell will have four seniors in 2019 and sophomore Jillienne Bennett was named second-team All-Ivy last season as a freshman.
“[The freshmen are] really killing it in practice … and doing a great job pushing upperclassmen,” Vande Berg said.
“Emma Worthington was a 2-Time Class B Nebraska Player of the Year, and she’s already working well with her teammates. Joanna Chang has played on Top 5 club teams for her entire career,” Vande Berg commented on two of her new players. “I couldn’t be happier with how they’ve come in.”
The Red will take on Youngstown State University, Niagara University, and the University of Hartford at the Cornell Invitational next weekend in Newman Arena. The first match, against Youngstown, starts Friday at 7 p.m.