Cornell Volleyball held its annual invite to Newman Arena last weekend, taking on Colgate University, University at Albany and Temple University. The Reds lost all three matches despite two very close thrillers in five sets.
On Friday night, the team dropped the season opener against Colgate (7-3) for a score of 1-3 (21-25, 25-20, 26-28, 16-25).
“Colgate are a good team and you can learn a lot when you play against them,” head coach Trudy Vande Berg said. “They don’t make mistakes and wait for their chance. We did so many good things, but we made mistakes that you can’t make against a team like this.
Seeking to bounce back on Saturday, the Reds competed until the very last point in both games. Against Albany (2-7) in game two, Cornell fought back in the fourth set to force a deciding fifth set, but ultimately couldn’t get the win. The third game against Temple (4-4) was marked by intense back-and-forth wins between the two teams, but once again the Reds failed to win the fifth set.
“With an 0-3 record it’s easy to take it at face value and look back and remember the losses, but I think we’ve done a lot of positive things that we can really use for ourselves. advance in the Ivy League game,” freshman Nicole Mallus said. “We did a lot of good things. and I think it’s important that we take those positive things and run with them instead of focusing on the overall result of the weekend.
Focusing on the positives, the team showed resilience by forcing a fifth set in both games on Saturday and showed improvements in their game.
“I think even from last weekend to this weekend there’s been so much improvement, so continuing on that trajectory is going to be huge,” Mallus said. “As the weekend progressed, [we] reduce these unforced errors. We had a lot of service errors on day one which we fixed on day two.
In the opener, the team had an astonishing 20 service errors in four sets, compared to just nine by Colgate. But in the second and third games, the Reds committed only 11 and 12 service errors in five sets, respectively.
In addition to its skills and talent, the team already has a crucial intangible asset: natural chemistry.
“We kind of have that chemistry that you feel on and off the pitch, and it’s hard to improve if you don’t have that, and we definitely have something really special,” Mallus said. “You feel that certain energy when everyone is working together and it’s great.”
Rookie Eliza Konvicka echoed comments from her teammates.
“The team chemistry is great…we just need to work a little better together on some crucial points, [but] we have the potential to do great things and turn around those tight games.
Many players posted good numbers in all three games, including Mallus and Konvicka. Throughout the weekend, the two freshmen continued their strong debut for their first season, as Konvicka recorded 39 kills and 27 digs, while Mallus recorded 36 kills and 9 digs. Sophomore Camryn Carlo also had 26 kills, while senior Emma Worthington registered 121 assists.
Next weekend, the Red will hit the road to face the University of South Florida (4-5), the University of South Dakota (8-1) and Stetson University (8-1) at the South Florida Invitational. This will be the final tune-up for Cornell before the start of the Ivy competition on September 24.
“Gaining more and more experience on the pitch together is going to be huge for us,” Mallus said. “Of course we will deal with it in training this week on the little technical things, but I think the most important thing for us is that we have a lot of talent in this team, so just learn to work together and to get accustomed to being together in the field.
“As a team I think we will work on ball control,” Konvicka said. “But I think we are well placed for this weekend.”
Cornell’s first game in the South Florida Invitational will be against the University of South Florida. It is scheduled for Friday at 12:30 p.m.