This past weekend, volleyball hosted No. 5 Harvard and No. 4 Dartmouth, and ultimately got swept by both opponents. The pair of losses extends the team’s losing streak to six games, the longest in the Ivy League, and drops them to No. 7 in the Ivy standings.
In Friday’s match against Harvard (4-11, 3-4 Ivy), the Red stayed neck and neck with the Crimson for the majority of set one. However, Harvard started to pull away by going on a 4-0 run to extend their lead to 16-11, and they wouldn’t look back. The Crimson sealed the set one victory to a score of 25-19.
Set two was even closer between the two teams. Late in the game, Cornell only trailed 23-21 after a kill by senior setter Emma Worthington. However, Harvard scored two quick points, via a kill and an attack error by the Red, to secure the 25-21 victory.
In set three, the Red was looking to avoid the sweep, however, they couldn’t stop Harvard’s offensive barrage. Trailing only 5-4 early in the set, the Crimson would go on a 12-5 run to extend their lead and bring the score to 17-9. From there, a match victory was within Harvard’s grasp, as they went on to sweep Cornell with a 25-15 set three win.
“As a very young team, we’re still learning and getting better each weekend,” Worthington said. “There’s things that we’ve been working on in practice each week that are translating to the games, so we’re still looking to put that all together. But overall we’re getting better each weekend, we’re learning each weekend and that’s kind of all we can ask for at this point in the season.”
Saturday’s match against Dartmouth (12-5, 4-3 Ivy) unfortunately ended in a similar result. In set one, the Red led 8-5 following a kill by junior middle blocker Sydney Moore. But Dartmouth would punch back with five consecutive points to retake a 10-8 lead. The rest of the first set remained close, with Cornell only trailing 23-20 late in the set. However, the Big Green would score the next two points to secure the 25-20 victory.
Similarly, to the match against Harvard, set two was close until the last point. At one point, the Big Green led 15-11, but the Red stormed back and scored four consecutive points to get back into the game and tie the score. Late in the match, Cornell only trailed 23-22, but once again couldn’t complete the comeback, and Dartmouth scored two more points to win set two, 25-22.
The Red, fighting to avoid their second sweep of the weekend, came out strong in set three by scoring the first three points. They led 17-13 at one point, however, Dartmouth would go on a 7-1 run to take a pivotal 20-18 lead. Cornell would come back to knot the score at 21 a-piece, after a kill by senior outside hitter Joanna Chang and two by freshman outside hitter Eliza Konvicka. But in the end, they couldn’t stop the Big Green’s offense, as they scored the next four points to defeat the Red.
“[Harvard and Dartmouth] scouted us incredibly well,” Worthington said. “It felt like at times there were the blockers’ four hands in our hitters’ faces all the time, no matter what I was doing to try to give them some space, so I think they scouted what we like to do really well. It’s just gonna be an extra challenge for us to mix things up and see if the next time we play them, we keep them off balance a little bit more.”
As the team continues to go up against tough Ivy opponents moving forward, they hope to specifically improve upon their defense. Hopefully this will help them in those late, tight game situations, like against Harvard and Dartmouth, to close out sets with a victory.
“Definitely blocking and defense are huge focuses for us right now,” Worthington said. “Our services have improved so much this year, and we had a huge focus on that at the beginning, so I know…that defense is definitely gonna be ramped up, and same with the blocking…and I think we’re definitely gonna see the results of that in the second half of the Ivy season.”
Cornell has not won a match since their Ivy opener against Columbia on Sept. 24. Next weekend, the team will face them again as they travel to New York City to compete against the No. 6 ranked Lions (4-12, 1-6 Ivy). The match will take place at 2:00 p.m. this Saturday, Oct. 22.