Volleyball broke their six game losing streak this past Saturday, sweeping Columbia in three closely fought sets. Their last win came nearly a month ago, also against Columbia, in the Ivy League opener on Sept. 24.
Competing on the road in New York City, the team looked to move past their losses by staying determined and working hard in practice and matches.
“We kept focusing on the positive side of things and not hyper-focusing on what we were doing wrong,” said freshman outside hitter Meghan Gaffigan. “We were more looking forward to seeing our hard work pay off.”
Their hard work certainly paid off against No. 7 Columbia (4-13, 1-7 Ivy), as the team had clearly improved on closing out close games.
In their last two matches against Harvard and Dartmouth, the Red had a tough time closing out sets and often lost by slim margins. However, in Saturday’s match against Columbia, Cornell flipped the script and pulled off late comebacks to win pivotal sets.
In set one, the Red (4-13, 2-6 Ivy) went down 15-9 against the Lions after a seven-point run by Columbia. However, that did not keep Cornell down. Losing 18-11, the team scored four consecutive points to cut down the deficit to only three points.
Then, losing 23-19 late in the set, the Red scored five straight points to retake a 24-23 lead. The Lions would score a point to knot the score at 24 a-piece, but Cornell would score the next two points via a kill by Gaffigan and an error by Columbia to secure a 26-24 set one victory.
Similarly in set two, the Red was down 23-20 late but scored the next four points to retake the lead, courtesy of two kills by junior middle blocker Sydney Moore, a kill by Gaffigan, and a Columbia error. Again, Cornell was able to complete the comeback and win the set, 27-25.
In set three, the two teams fought neck and neck the entire way. Late in the set, the score was knotted at 27-27, when the Red scored the final two points to complete the sweep of the Lions.
“I was very proud of how we really came together and played as a team,” Gaffigan said. “We really focused on finishing the game and not letting up, and overall I was very proud of how we played.”
Many Cornell players had standout performances that propelled the team to victory. Moore tallied a team-high eight blocks, in addition to an impressive 13 kills in only 20 attempts, marking a .650 hitting percentage. Her remarkable performance places her ninth in Cornell history for a single match hitter percentage.
Gaffigan also impacted the game in many ways, executing kills in key moments, and also recording a career-high seven kills and five blocks. Additionally, sophomore libero Jackie Baker stood out on the defensive end, notching a season-high 18 digs.
Up next, No. 6 Cornell will hit the road to face a couple of tough opponents in No. 1 Yale and No. 4 Brown. Yale currently remains undefeated in Ivy competition with a 16-1, 8-0 Ivy, while Brown sits at 9-8, 5-3 Ivy.
“I think we’ll look at their strengths and weaknesses and focus on those,” Gaffigan said on preparing for next weekend’s matches. “But I think we need to play ‘Cornell volleyball’, and really focus more on ourselves and how we can play [at our best].”
Match one against Yale will take place at 7:00 p.m. this Friday, Oct. 28, and match two is scheduled for 5:00 p.m. this Saturday, Oct. 29. Both matches will be available to stream on ESPN+.