Cornell volleyball hosted its annual invitational at Newman Arena this past weekend, facing off against Colgate University, University at Albany and Temple University. The Red lost all three matches despite two very close, five-set thrillers.
On Friday night, the team dropped the season home opener against Colgate (7-3) to a score of 1-3 (21-25, 25-20, 26-28, 16-25).
“Colgate is a good team and you can learn a lot when you play them,” said Head Coach Trudy Vande Berg. “They don’t make errors and wait for their chance. We did so many good things, but made some errors that you can’t make when playing a team like that.”
Looking to bounce back on Saturday, the Red competed hard to the very last point in both matches. Against Albany (2-7) in game two, Cornell fought back in the fourth set to force a game-deciding fifth set, but ultimately couldn’t come away with the win. Game three against Temple (4-4) featured intense back and forth match wins between the two teams, but once again the Red failed to win the fifth set.
“With an 0-3 record, it’s easy to take it at face value and look back and just remember losses, but I think that we did a lot of positive things that we can really use to move us forward into Ivy League play,” said freshman Nicole Mallus. “There were a lot of good things that we did. and I think it’s important that we take those positive things and run with those instead of focusing on the overall outcome of the weekend.”
Focusing on the positives, the team displayed resilience in forcing a fifth set in both Saturday matches, and showcased improvements in their game.
“I think that even just from last weekend to this weekend there’s been so many improvements, so continuing on that trajectory is going to be huge,” Mallus said. “As the weekend progressed, [we] cut down on those unforced errors. We had a lot of service errors on day one that we tightened up on day two.”
In game one, the team had an astonishing 20 service errors in four sets, compared to only nine by Colgate. But in games two and three, the Red committed only 11 and 12 service errors in five sets, respectively.
Aside from their skills and talent, the team already has a crucial intangible asset: natural chemistry.
“We kind of have this chemistry that you feel on and off the court, and that is hard to improve if you don’t have it, and we definitely have something that is really special,” Mallus said. “You feel this certain energy with everybody working together and that feels great.”
Freshman Eliza Konvicka echoed her teammates’ comments.
“The team chemistry is awesome…we just have to work together a little bit better on some crucial points, [but] we have the potential to do great things and turn those tight matches around.”
Many players put up strong numbers over the three games, including Mallus and Konvicka. Across the weekend, both freshmen continued their strong starts to their debut season, as Konvicka recorded 39 kills and 27 digs, while Mallus notched 36 kills and 9 digs. Sophomore Camryn Carlo also tallied 26 kills, while senior Emma Worthington recorded 121 assists.
Next weekend the Red will hit the road to face University of South Florida (4-5), University of South Dakota (8-1) and Stetson University (8-1) at the South Florida Invitational. This will be the final tuneup for Cornell before they begin Ivy competition on September 24.
“Getting more and more experience on the court together is going to be huge for us,” Mallus said. “Of course we’re going to get after it in practice this week on the little technical things, but I think the biggest thing for us is that we have a lot of talent on this team, so just honing in on working together and getting used to being together on the court.”
“As a team I think we’re gonna work on some ball control,” Konvicka said. “But I think we’re in a good place going into this weekend.”
Cornell’s first match in the South Florida Invitational will be against the University of South Florida. It is scheduled for Friday at 12:30 pm.