VBALL : Syracuse looks past Cornell to crucial games against Villanova, Rutgers
On Sunday, the Syracuse volleyball team was all smiles, talking excitedly with family and friends about the prospects for the rest of the season. SU battled from behind to beat Pittsburgh in what was its best match of the year. Four players had career-highs and the team set at least three SU records. The Orange had 87 kills in the 3-2 victory, breaking a 16-year record set by the Orange in 1990 against Maryland.
Just two days later, SU was left trying to pick up the pieces. The Orange had its worst performance of the season and recorded just 29 kills against in-state rival Cornell on Tuesday, who swept SU. The loss snapped a three-match winning streak.
‘From the first five points it was obvious we weren’t the same team that played Pitt,’ junior Cheryl Cobbina said. ‘We went from the best game of our season to the worst.’
The Orange (10-19, 4-5) will look to refocus when it travels to face Big East foes Villanova (13-12, 5-4) and Rutgers (5-14, 2-7) on Saturday and Sunday.
SU would most likely secure a spot in the Big East Tournament with a win over Villanova. The Wildcats are one game ahead of the Orange for eighth place in the conference.
‘We are all very excited to play Villanova,’ sophomore April Quigley said. ‘We all know this is probably one of the most important weekends that we have had to face.’
At Cornell, Quigley said SU appeared to be either caught up in the emotions of the Pittsburgh match or looking too far into the future to this week’s pivotal Big East match-ups. Both concepts most likely contributed to the team’s underestimation of Cornell.
‘We weren’t expecting Cornell to be so good,’ Quigley said. ‘Our hitting power, our defense wasn’t there, our blocking wasn’t there. We just mentally broke down as they were blocking us.’
SU is looking positively at the Cornell experience as a wake-up call and counting its blessings that its meltdown did not come against a Big East opponent.
‘Even though (Coach) Jing (Pu) said it was not good to lose to another New York team, he said no harm done,’ Cobbina said. ‘He said at least it wasn’t a Big East game.’
Cobbina was named to the Big East Honor Roll this week after leading the Orange to three straight victories before the team fell to Cornell. She had 27 kills against Pittsburgh and is averaging 4.22 kills per game-third-most in the Big East.
But Cobbina, like the rest of her teammates, had a trying day against Cornell, recording just four kills.
Quigley feels in order for the team to fully recover from Tuesday’s disappointment the team needs to reflect on what everyone learned from the loss.
‘We learned the mental state that we need to be in especially for this weekend,’ Quigley said. ‘Just because we beat Pitt doesn’t mean we can beat everyone else. We have to play just as hard against other opponents.’
Cobbina and Quigley agreed that in order to defeat Villanova, SU will have to find a similar groove to which it had against Pittsburgh.
‘Everyone needs to show up to play and everyone’s got to be ready to go,’ Quigley said. ‘When we played Pitt everyone was up and had their best game of the season and if we see that again we will be able to take on anyone.’
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