This weekend, Newman Arena was awash with activity as C.U. volleyball hosted the Cornell Invitational and got its season underway.
Four teams participated in the competition: Cornell, the University of Hartford, Niagara University and Youngstown State University. Cornell won against both Youngstown and Niagara, 3 sets to 0. The Red lost its last match to Hartford but battled hard for a final score of 2 sets to 3.
“We had a lot of fight … We had that sense of urgency,” said senior outside hitter Samanta Arenas. “We all kind of stepped up. We were all working hard to play our roles.”
The Red’s first game was on Friday against Youngstown State. Sophomore right side Jillienne Bennett led the scoring with 9 kills, followed by Arenas’ 8. The Red swept Youngstown with scores of 25-16, 25-19 and 25-21.
On Saturday morning, Cornell also triumphed over Niagara University. Junior outside hitter Lauren Stubbs and senior middle blocker Jada Stackhouse led the team in kills, racking up 10 and 8, respectively. The scores of each set were, in order, 25-15, 25-19 and 25-13.
The final game of the weekend was against the Hartford Hawks on Saturday evening, in which the Red lost, 2-3. The team fought hard, ending with set scores of 25-21, 23-25, 23-25, 25-19 and 17-19. Cornell barely lost the 3 sets that clinched its defeat.
Cornell is starting its season with a respectable 2-1 record, and taking every opportunity to gear up for the competitive Ivy League games coming at the end of September.
“We have been working a lot on specific skills that we know we’re going to need coming into Ivy play,” Arenas said. “We’re working a lot on defense and serve-receive … we’re going to face a lot of competitive serving teams in the Ivies … we’re working on not getting into a rut or digging ourselves into a hole.”
Given the team’s strong start, the Red’s pre-season work appears to be paying off. The team hopes that the cohesion among its players will lead Cornell to success as the season progresses.
“In our previous pre-seasons, we were getting into the rhythm of things,” Arenas said. “[This year], we’re hitting the ground running, we’re super competitive and ahead of the game … We have really strong freshmen.”
Next weekend, the team will travel to San Francisco to play in a tournament against St. Mary’s College, Utah State University, and the University of San Francisco.