On Homecoming weekend, Cornell volleyball (4-8, 2-1 Ivy) hosted Dartmouth (4-7, 1-1 Ivy) and Harvard (9-3, 2-1 Ivy) at Newman Arena for its 2nd and 3rd matches of Ivy League play. After getting swept by Dartmouth, 3-0, the Red did a complete 180 in their match against Harvard and took the game in three straight sets.
On Friday afternoon, the Red struggled in its game against Dartmouth.
“We came out really flat,” said head coach Trudy Vande Berg.
At the start of the first set, the two teams jockeyed for positioning and tied at seven points apiece. However, Dartmouth pulled ahead quickly.
“They played a good match against us, probably the best they’ve played all year. But we never responded,” Vande Berg said.
Dartmouth took the set after a service error by sophomore setter Doga Ozalp, 19-25. The next set was even more brutal, as repeated errors by the Red and consecutive kills by the Big Green handed Dartmouth their second set of the match, 13-25.
“We just kept either waiting for Dartmouth to make errors or for somebody else to make the play… that usually never happens,” Vande Berg said.
The third set echoed the first two, and Dartmouth started the set with a 13-3 lead. Although the Red tried to make up the difference with a 15-11 run, it wasn’t enough, and the Big Green took the third set, 25-18, after a service error by junior middle blocker Camryn Carlo.
“We did not play well,” Vande Berg said. “Afterwards, we talked in the locker room, and at the end, I just said, ‘Let’s not feel like this ever again’.”
Early on in the game against Harvard, however, it was obvious that the Red was feeling hesitant after its loss against Dartmouth. Cornell started the first set with four consecutive attack errors that led to a 5-1 run for Harvard. The ambiance in the arena was tense, and it seemed the game would be a reflection of the one prior.
The Red persisted, however, and, riding on a burst of momentum, netted a 5-1 run that gave it its first lead of the set, 7-6. The Red would sustain the lead for the rest of the set and eventually go on to win it, 25-21. The first set saw many great performances, notably from senior middle blocker/outside hitter Alexa Orent, who netted four kills in the first set alone.
“I think Doga set a great match,” Orent said, reflecting on the team’s performance. “Dartmouth was a great learning experience for us, and we were kind of able to take what happened [in that game] and apply it on Saturday.”
The second set found the teams tied at 4 apiece, but an error by the Crimson and a kill by Orent led to five consecutive points for the Red, resulting in a Harvard timeout — which they would use to claw back and cut the deficit to 14-16. This forced a Cornell timeout that killed Harvard’s momentum and gave a 9-3 run from Cornell. An Ozalp kill gave the Red the second set.
The most intense moment of the game undoubtedly came late in the third set. Cornell and Harvard each struggled to take the lead for the first-half of the set, until a kill and an error by sophomore outside hitter Eliza Konvicka finally gave the Crimson a two point lead, 15-13. Harvard would sustain the lead for most of the match, until it was just one point away from pushing the game to a fourth set.
Although Harvard had a 24-22 lead, the Red would take the lead again after two Konvicka kills, 25-24. However, an attack error by Konvicka would tie things back up at 25 apiece. There was a possibility that Harvard would push the match to a fourth set, but two consecutive kills by Carlo gave the Red its second win in Ivy League play.
“We were like a completely different team, and I was really happy to see it. I was almost ready to cry,” Vande Berg said. “I feel really good going into this weekend against Yale and Brown, now.”
Orent echoed this sentiment.
“We’re very excited for next weekend,” Orent said. “Both teams are really fun to play, and we just have to implement what we learned from the games this weekend.”
This Friday, Vande Berg will be celebrating her birthday by giving cupcakes to the first 50 to 75 spectators who come to the game against Yale at 7 p.m. On Saturday, the Red is playing Brown at 5 p.m. Both games will be in Newman Arena and can be streamed live on ESPN+.
Hamna Waseem is a Sun contributing writer. She can be reached at [email protected].