After struggling through the start of its schedule, the Harvard women's volleyball team (3-6) opens its Ivy season tonight at 6 p.m. against Cornell in the Malkin Athletic Center.
"Cornell will be a pivotal test for us," Co-Captain Manda Schossberger said. "This match can tell us where we are and far we have to go."
"Cornell will be a good indication of how we will do against the top Ivy teams," sophomore Carolyn Burger said.
Last year, the Crimson eliminated the Big Red from the Ivy League tournament with a four-set decision.
"We're a better team in many ways," Schossberger said. "We have more depth than ever before. [Coach Wayne Lem] is using the bench more, and players who didn't play much last year are contributing this year."
Despite this year's slow 3-6 start, the Crimson is expecting to pick up the pace in its league games.
"I don't think our season will reflect how we will do in the tounament," Captain Maia Forman said. "It will take a little time before we hit all cylinders."
Last year, the Crimson finished the regular season with a 15-9 record (3-4 Ivy), but the squad came together at the tourney, winning three out of five matches. That was good enough for third place, a mere two points away from making the finals.
Cornell (11-3, 2-0 Ivy) is led by junior Becky Merchant and senior Teri Duran, who complement each other the way Forman and Schossberger do for Harvard.
The Big Red also has an abundance of height to go with an experienced team--Cornell only lost one player to graduation.
Women's Soccer Honors: The Ivy League women's soccer Player of the Week was Cornel! fullback Lauren Gallagher, who successfully shadowed 1987 All-Ivy forward Celita Schultz of Yale. Gallagher held the Eli forward only two shots the entire game as Cornell defeated Yale, 2-0.
Harvard Captain Amy Winston assisted on five goals in two games to make the Ivy League Honor Roll. The 4-ft, 10-in. forward is playing in her first season this year after missing the last three seasons because of injuries.
Big Red Controversy:Cornell's junior sweeper Paul Gardner and sophomore midfielder Yuri Castillo have left the team after a controversial confrontation between sophomore forward Chris Kennel and Big Red Coach Jack Writer at a scrimmage game last Thursday.
After the coach pulled Kennel from the game, the two exchanged words. Writer then told the sophomore to leave the field--and the team. Gardner, Castillo and Kennel will be off the team indefinitely.
Football Tidbits: The Harvard-Dartmouth game Saturday will be televised nationally on ESPN with kickoff slated for 12:35 p.m.