Over the weekend, Cornell volleyball (4-10, 2-3 Ivy) hosted Yale (9-3, 4-0 Ivy) and Brown (12-3, 3-2 Ivy) on Friday and Saturday, respectively. The Red lost both matches, securing its eighth consecutive loss against Yale and its fifth against Brown.
The first set against Yale was undoubtedly the highlight of the match for Cornell. Seemingly riding on the momentum from the win against Harvard, the Red came out firing, starting the set on a 10-5 run. Yale managed to cut the deficit to 13-16, but three kills by sophomore outside hitters Eliza Konvicka and Nicole Mallus sent the Red on a 3-1 run that returned its five point lead, 19-14.
The Bulldogs wouldn’t get any closer for the rest of the set, and a kill by sophomore setter Doga Ozalp combined with an ace from freshman libero Sarita Pomar gave the Red its first and only set of the match. The Red had a team-high 14 kills and a match-high .417 hitting percentage in the opening set.
“We had a lot of players who stepped up and played well. They were very consistent,” said head coach Trudy Vande Berg.
The second set saw seven tie scores and four lead changes as Cornell and Yale battled for positioning. It seemed like the Red would pull ahead after a service ace by Ozalp gave Cornell a 18-17 lead, but Yale would tie things up at 18 and take the set after an attack error by Konvicka gave it a 7-3 run.
“Yale doesn’t make mistakes, they make adjustments,” Vande Berg said. “In the first set, we came out really high energy and were just going for it, but Yale made some adjustments and picked up their serving, and we just didn’t respond quickly enough.”
With both teams tied at one each, Cornell hoped to take the momentum back from Yale, but instead gained its worst set loss of the season, 9-25. Despite the rough third set, the Red came out with a 5-3 lead in the fourth, but a 7-0 run by the Bulldogs killed the momentum. Cornell’s offense would make a valiant effort later in the set, even forcing a Bulldog timeout after kills by junior middle blocker Camryn Carlo and Mallus, but Yale battled hard and took the fourth set and the match from Cornell.
“If you take out the third set of the match, I think we played a solid match against a very good team who is very disciplined and methodical in how they do things,” Vande Berg said. “We learned a lot from that match.”
On Saturday, the Red concluded a four-game homestand by losing a five-set tug of war to Brown. The game saw many highlights for Cornell, even if it ultimately dropped to 2-3 in Ivy League play. Konvicka led the offense for the Red with 19 kills and five blocks along with Carlo who delivered 10 kills and four blocks. Other notable players were Mallus with nine kills and two blocks and senior Sydne Moore with seven kills alongside team highs in hitting percentage (.462) and blocks (5).
The first set of the match went to Brown, 25-21, but Cornell would swoop in and seize the second set, 25-18. The Bears took the third set, 25-17, and the beginning of the fourth set found Cornell down two sets to one. Unwilling to give the Bears their third set, the Red started the fourth set with a four point lead that the Bears would eventually cut down to just one, 10-9 Cornell. However, an 8-0 run by the Red, highlighted by three service aces by junior libero Jackie Baker, left the score at 18-9. The Red raced ahead and won the set, 25-14, firmly pushing the match to a pivotal fifth set.
The two teams’ equivalence in skill was highlighted early on in the set as both teams deadlocked at three apiece.
“It was an ugly fifth set, and I’m sure Brown’s coach would say the same,” Vande Berg said.
Neither team let the other pull ahead and there were four ties and lead changes before the score tied at 10 apiece. Cornell pulled ahead after a kill by Ozalp, but the Bears clawed back and tied the score up at 13. However, two consecutive attack errors by the Red allowed the Bears to cinch the fifth set and the match.
“I think we just got a little tight and went a little bit outside ourselves,” Vande Berg said. “We had four sophomores, a freshman and a junior out there. So, we’re learning and we’re getting better.”
This weekend, the Red hits the road to take on Penn on Friday at 7 p.m. before traveling to New Jersey to take on Princeton on Saturday at 5 p.m. Both matches can be streamed live on ESPN+.
Hamna Waseem is a Sun contributing writer. She can be reached at [email protected].