Cornell volleyball (2-7, 0-0, Ivy) played and won its longest set of the season this past Friday in the first set against Morgan State, 34-32, and used the momentum to smash the Bears (3-9, 0-0, MEAC) in a 3-0 win, finally breaking the six-match losing streak the Red was amassing.
“Last night was just the start,” said sophomore outside hitter Eliza Konvicka. “We’ve been working on a lot of things in practice, especially the small things that make a really big impact.”
The Red made its biggest impact right out the gate, while both the Red and the Bears fought to seize the first set. Cornell had a five-point lead for most of the set, but the Bears would claw back eventually to close the gap to one after a block by Jada Williams, leaving the score 21-20 in Cornell’s favor. Hoping to break Morgan State’s scoring streak, head coach Trudy Vande Berg was quick to call a time-out. However, the timeout fueled the Bears into pulling ahead, 24-23, and resulted in another Cornell timeout.
“I wanted to let them know I had faith in them, turn that doubt into competence,” Vande Berg said.
Following the second timeout, consecutive attack errors by Morgan State and a kill by Konvicka allowed the Red to win the tug of war for a set that saw 11 tie scores and six lead changes.
The Red would have the upper hand for the rest of the game. Konvicka led the Red’s offense with 52 attempted kills, 20 of which landed and resulted in a match-high .386 hitting percentage. This marks the second time the sophomore has reached the 20-kill performance this season, the first being when she netted a career-high 25 kills in the Red’s 3-1 win against Niagara.
Sophomore setter Doga Ozalp carried the Red to its lead in assists (43-35) over Morgan State by administering 39 assists total. The Red had the statistical lead in almost every other category including service aces (5-4), three of which came from senior libero Kate Stration.
“Overall, I think we did a really great job,” Konvicka said. “We’re just trying to get more consistent with things and just connecting all the dots all at the same time.”
On Saturday, the Red’s consistency would once again be put to the test against Iowa (8-4, 0-0 Big Ten).
After losing the first set, 25-22, Cornell battled hard to give a highlight-filled performance in the second set. There was a back and forth for the first 12 points, which the teams would tie up at 6 points each. The Red would pull ahead, however, after an ace by Ozalp and a block by freshman outside hitter Jaida Sione gave the Red an 8-6 lead. The back and forth would continue until Cornell had a 23-19 lead. However, five kills and a service ace by the Hawks helped Iowa seize the set, 27-25.
Keeping the momentum, Iowa seized the lead early on in the third set, 0-7, and didn’t let it go. The Hawks won the set, 25-11, and with that clinched the win.
“It’s just really over communicating on everything and working together as a unit we need to focus on,” Konvicka said when asked about the Red’s consistency. “We’re all there for each other, and we’re all doing our part, but that trust is really, really big.”
This weekend, the Red opens Ivy League play against Columbia on Saturday at 5 p.m. in New York City. The game will be live streamed on ESPN+.
Hamna Waseem is a Sun contributing writer. She can be reached at [email protected].