Riding a six-game winning streak, Cornell volleyball hit the road to square off against the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton University.
Although the Red navigated its non-conference slate and first Ivy contest quite well, Princeton presented itself as a potential roadblock. While the Tigers have struggled in the early portion of the season, they have been crowned the Ivy League champion three out of the last four years and have proven to be a perennial conference powerhouse. Meanwhile, the Quakers limped to a 6-19 conference record last year, but they kicked off 2019 with seven wins in their first eight games.
That didn’t stop Cornell. The Red continued its hot streak, knocking off Princeton, 3-1, and defeating Penn, 3-2.
Both games were tight, with Cornell (10-2, 3-0 Ivy League) barely defeating Penn (7-5, 0-3) in the fifth set and scraping by Princeton (6-6, 2-1) with 26-24 and 28-26 wins. With these contests decided by a narrow margin, the Red did not crack under pressure as it notched a pair of critical conference victories.
Senior middle blocker Jada Stackhouse, who was a top scorer in both games, mentioned the keys to success during these games.
“We had such a good preseason this year and we just realized how skillful we are,” said Stackhouse. “Also we’re … very consistent, and in the past, we would fold when faced with a lot of pressure. That’s really changed this year.”
Cornell’s two wins this weekend extended its winning streak to eight games — the team’s longest streak since it won nine straight games in 2006. Given Princeton’s success in the conference, Cornell’s victory was certainly an upset by most metrics and could signal a changing of tide within the Ancient Eight.
Along with Stackhouse, sophomores Jillienne Bennett, Avery Hanan and Madison Baptiste were the top scorers in both games. The four players added 39 hits against Penn and 45 hits against Princeton, accounting for almost half the team’s points in both games.
Stackhouse said Cornell’s scouting of the other teams has made them particularly strong because this helps the team develop blocking assignments.
With more Ivy League opponents on the docket, Stackhouse detailed the team’s preparation for the next weekend’s slate of games.
“[We can] definitely work more on blocking,” Stackhouse said. “We always switch up the assignments depending on who the big hitters are on the other team … Princeton and Penn had some good hitters, and I don’t think we blocked too well.”
The Red will look to maintain its eight-game winning streak as it hosts Dartmouth and Harvard this weekend at Newman Arena.