This past weekend, Cornell volleyball (3-7, 1-0 Ivy) kick-started its Ivy League play in a match against Columbia (2-8, 0-1 Ivy).
“The first match is always stressful, because we had to do a lot of work to get ready against a team that is very similar to us in how they played in the pre-season,” said head coach Trudy Vande Berg.
The hard work paid off, as the Red improved to 3-7 on the season, while Columbia fell to 2-8.
Sophomore outside hitter Nicole Mallus paced the Red against Columbia in the four sets it took to seize the match by netting a career-high 17 kills.
“The highlight of the game for me was seeing everyone do their jobs and implementing the stuff we’ve been working so hard on,” Mallus said.
Vande Berg echoed the sentiment.
“We don’t have to go above and beyond what we’re capable of doing. We just have to do our jobs, which we did,” Vande Berg said.
In the first set, the Red started off with a 12-6 lead that would eventually advance to 23-18, a lead similar to the one the Red had in its second set against the Hawkeyes the week prior.
“We were up against Columbia and the score was identical to Iowa,” Vande Berg said. “We ended up giving that lead away to Iowa, and [I was concerned]… and [the team] really pulled through.”
The Red didn’t relinquish its lead this time, as it took the first set against Columbia, 25-19. Riding on the momentum, Cornell started the second set with a 4-2 advantage. The Lions clawed the lead away, however, and eventually took a 22-19 lead that forced a Cornell timeout. Columbia didn’t let the stoppage break its momentum, and the Lions won their first set of the match.
The Red did not let that hold it back and took a 5-2 lead early on in the third set, highlighted by a kill each from sophomore outside hitter Eliza Konvicka and sophomore setter Doga Ozalp. A stuff block by senior middle blocker Sydne Moore and her junior counterpart Camryn Carlo also proved to be crucial. The Red would extend the lead to 11-7 until a 7-2 run by the Lions gave it their first in the set 14-13.
The Red continued to battle, tying things back up at 20 apiece. A kill by Mallus gave the Red its lead back, 21-20, and a combo block by Carlo and freshman outside hitter Jaida Sione sealed the third set, 25-21.
Cornell would go on to win the fourth set 25-20, sealing its victory against the Lions.
Looking forward, the Red is looking to break its five match losing streak against Dartmouth and gain its second win in Ivy League play.
“[Dartmouth] didn’t graduate many of the starters from last year, so we’re familiar [with their team],” Vande Berg said. “This is a great opportunity for us to show how much we’ve improved. We’re excited to go.”
The Red is giving free t-shirts to the first 50 people that come to support the team on Friday, Sept. 29 at 7 p.m. against Dartmouth. The Red is playing Harvard at 5 p.m. the next day. Both games will take place in Newman Arena and can be streamed live on ESPN+.
Hamna Waseem is a Sun contributing writer. She can be reached at [email protected].