The Columbia volleyball team (2-8, 0-1 Ivy) has a chance to prove that its talent and ability to win games are much greater than its unimpressive record suggests when the team hosts its first two Ivy League home matches of the season against Penn and Princeton this weekend.
A big question mark surrounding the team remains its ability to close out games. It played a dominant first set against Cornell 25-12 last weekend, and had chances to win the game in the fourth set but ultimately lost the match in the fifth.
“That took a toll on everyone mentally, losing in five against Cornell, because we clearly were the better team,” sophomore Atlanta Moye-McLaren said. “It was more frustrating because we came out and killed them in the first game and then just went with the flow for the rest of the match. We didn’t really have that fighting push at the end.”
Despite lacking that killer instinct against Cornell, the team remains confident that the players will continue to want the ball in pressure situations and will make the aggressive plays to score points.
“I think having the team around you is a good support system,” Moye-McLaren said. “If you mess up on a kill, they know your intention was good and so they’re never going to come up and say, ‘Oh my gosh, make the next one!’”
The Lions’ relatively young core will also have to be up to the challenge, as Columbia’s roster only features three upperclassmen.
“Obviously we have talented individuals, it’s been about putting it together as one,” sophomore Bailey Springer said. “We’ve had team meetings, telling each other what we need from each other and getting support. I think everyone realizes now, that in order to win, we can’t just have six talented individuals. It takes us all supporting each other.”
Leading the way for the Lions has been the outside hitter duo of Moye-McLaren and Springer. Springer is second in the Ivy League with 3.46 kills per set and Moye-McLaren is right behind her in third place, with 3.10 kills per set.
They both are looking to continue their success and lead the team forward in terms of making plays on the court and also supporting the team in other ways, such as leadership and communication.
“Communication has been a big key for us all year,” Springer said. “We’ve been talking a lot about when a player is down, knowing, ‘Hey, this is the type of reinforcement I need.’ It’s getting to know one another and what we need to do to help each other play our best.”
Penn and Princeton represent two opportunities for the Lions to pick up some wins.
“Coming into this weekend, everyone’s really motivated,” Moye-McLaren said. “We’re mad about that loss, so coming into the games this weekend, we really want to prove ourselves and show that we’re an amazing team and that we have the potential to win the Ivies this year.”
The Lions host Penn at Levien Gymnasium on Friday at 7 p.m. for GO PINK Night—where donations will go to the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center—followed by Princeton on Saturday at 5 p.m.