Cornell volleyball put an eight-game winning streak on the line as it hosted Dartmouth and Harvard this past weekend. Unlike in previous seasons, the Red entered this batch of matchups undefeated in conference play and atop the standings in the Ancient Eight.
“We weren’t the reigning champs and now we have that target on our back, we’re just learning how to deal with a lot of pressure,” said senior libero Lily Barber.
The pressure did not faze the Red in the slightest. In fact, Cornell earned comfortable victories as it defeated Dartmouth, 3-0, and Harvard, 3-1.
Not only did the Red (12-2, 5-0 Ivy League) extend its winning streak to 10 games, but it did so while promoting awareness for both breast cancer and mental health.
Cornell’s tilt against Dartmouth (5-9, 1-4) was dubbed the “Dig Pink” game, and it featured players and spectators wearing pink. The Red raised hundreds of dollars toward breast cancer treatment. Saturday’s matchup against Harvard (3-11, 1-4) promoted the #DontBearItAlone campaign.
“[Senior] Jenna Phelps … started [the #DontBearItAlone campaign] last year,” said head coach Trudy Vande Berg. “We all wear green and promote awareness and do a lot of social media posts.”
With the pair of wins, Cornell is now up to 5-0 in Ivy League play and has posted its best start in conference play since 2005, a year in which the Red won its first 12 Ivy games en route to an appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
Vande Berg attributed the Red’s success to quality play from many different players.
“Some great seniors … have played a ton. Our sophomore class is very talented and … we have some great freshmen,” Vande Berg said. “It’s been really good to watch them. We had a couple [tough] games, but we came back that next set and took care of business.”
“We’ve gotten a lot more mentally tough,” Barber said. “I feel like my last few years, the team would have all the skills but we’d crack under pressure. Every year, the freshmen get better and better, our coach is really good at recruiting.”
While the Red notched a clean sweep of Dartmouth, Harvard presented a tougher challenge. The Crimson only lost the second set by two points and notched a win in the following frame. But Cornell secured the victory in the fourth set in a 25-20 decision.
The Red continues its conference slate on the road with games against Brown and Yale on Friday and Saturday, respectively.