The women’s volleyball team kicked off their season this past weekend, playing three matches against St. John’s University, Colgate University and the University of Albany. Strong performances by offensive veterans and first year defensive specialists led the Red to wins against St. Johns and Colgate but did not carry the team to a victory against Albany.
In its first game against St. John’s (2-4), Cornell (2-1) found itself in a hole after dropping the first set 28-26 and trailing in the second set by 17-10. However, game-changing contributions by veteran players led to the team’s comeback and turned the tide of the match in the Red’s favor.
Junior Joanna Chang led the team with 15 kills and 18 digs, while three other seniors — Madison Baptiste, Jilliene Bennet and Casey Justus — all tallied double digits kills as well. The team’s impressive comeback was due in part to its performance from the serving line, as the Red notched 13 aces compared to St. Johns’ three.
The Red narrowly completed the second set comeback, taking the set 27-25, and went on to edge out St. John’s in the next two sets, winning 25-23 and 25-19.
In its next game against Colgate (1-4), the Red dominated the Raiders, beating them in three straight sets, 25-17, 25-12 and 25-13, respectively. Similar to the first game, Chang and Baptiste led the team to their second win, with Chang recording 13 kills and Baptiste tallying 10.
“I thought we played really well,” Chang said. “Coming back from two years of not playing and to win the tournament, I thought we were pretty good.”
In addition to the impressive display from the veterans, first year liberos Jackie Baker and Megan Bickel helped carry the team to victory by recording 12 and 11 digs, respectively.
“[Baker and Bickel] did really well,” Chang said. “They were good under pressure, which is hard for freshmen to do, so I thought their performances were really good.”
In the final game of the tournament, the Red fell to Albany (3-4) for the first time in the program’s history. The Red won the first set 25-23, but dropped the next three sets 25-21, 25-23 and 25-23, respectively.
Despite the loss, Baptiste still put up double digit numbers with 15 kills, along with senior Casey Justus’s 10 kills. Albany’s defense solidified the win for the Great Danes, as the team out-blocked the Red 14-5 and senior Charlotte Macken led the way with a match-high of 20 digs.
“In our last game we lost because we weren’t communicating well,” Chang said. “[If we practice] more of that and more basic movements, we should be okay by the time we get to Ivy’s.”
The Red will look to bounce back this Friday and Saturday when they host the Cornell Invitational at Newman Arena at Bartels Hall. They will face off against UNLV (3-2), Niagara University (2-4) and Bucknell University (3-3).