THE ITHACAN

Accuracy • Independence • Integrity
The Student News Site of Ithaca College

THE ITHACAN

The Student News Site of Ithaca College

THE ITHACAN

Support Us
$1375
$2000
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will support The Ithacan's student journalists in their effort to keep the Ithaca College and wider Ithaca community informed. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

Support Us
$1375
$2000
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will support The Ithacan's student journalists in their effort to keep the Ithaca College and wider Ithaca community informed. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

Volleyball invitationals highlight loaded match schedule

Junior+defensive+specialist+Ellie+Benedict+prepares+to+receive+a+serve+during+the+Bomber+Invitational%2C+a+home-opening+tournament+hosted+Sept.+15%E2%80%9316+in+the+Ben+Light+Gymnasium.
Walker Borgmann
Junior defensive specialist Ellie Benedict prepares to receive a serve during the Bomber Invitational, a home-opening tournament hosted Sept. 15–16 in the Ben Light Gymnasium.

The Ithaca College volleyball team takes on a tall task every year, playing in several multi-header matchups against different teams; something atypical for other sports at the college.

Typically, invitationals consist of three matches against different opponents played over the course of two days — one on Friday evening and two more throughout the day on Saturday. In a pool of four teams, a total of six or more matches might be played over the course of the weekend.

With the exception of 2020, the team has gone to the NCAA tournament every season for the past seven years. Head coach Johan Dulfer said this is the goal the team shoots for every year and the schedule they play is crafted with that vision in mind. 

“There’s definitely pressure out there to play enough matches to get you eligible for the NCAA tournament,” Dulfer said. “We try to schedule it so we have enough wins, and enough quality wins, so that the strength of the schedule is high.”

This season, the team has 27 regular-season matches on its schedule — a typical number for an NCAA volleyball program. Of its first 15 games, the team’s schedule included three ranked matchups in No. 4 New York University, No. 13 Massachusetts Institute of Technology and No. 8 Johns Hopkins University. Each of the non-conference competitions took place at different multi-header invitationals. 

On Sept. 15–16, the team hosted the Bomber Invitational, an annual home-opening tournament. Frank Maira, athletics communications specialist, said he believes these are some of the most crucial and important games that the Bombers play every season. 

“It helps the volleyball team find themselves, especially going into Liberty League play,” Maira said. “They always put on a good show during the Bomber Invitational. It really helps us tune-up for the rest of the season and make a run in Liberty League competition.”

Assistant coach Camryn Bancroft said she enjoys the process of preparing the team for these games and the environment that comes with coaching the team. She said the team’s best methods for success come from playing the game by holding true to their style and continually building on the strengths they have. 

“We’re going to do what we’re going to do,” said Bancroft. “We just focus on us and get better at what we’re good at, and what we’re good at beats other teams.”

Bancroft joined the Bombers’ coaching staff in Spring 2023 following a collegiate volleyball career at Springfield College from 2017–22. She said she believes the close proximity to her time as a college player makes it easier for her to guide the team toward success. 

“It forms a better relationship with me to them,” said Bancroft. “They listen to me because they know when I’m telling the truth. It’s definitely helpful that I had that experience.”

After playing in similar events throughout her own collegiate career, Bancroft said she has been a reliable resource for her athletes when it comes to taking care of their bodies during in-season play. 

“They trust me when I tell them, ‘Hey, you need to eat this,’ or, ‘You need to make sure you’re chugging water,’” Bancroft said. “I know what it’s like.”

Senior defensive specialist and captain Julia Costa said the team morale is high when the Bombers enter multi-header invitationals. Playing multiple matches in a short period of time takes a toll on an athlete’s body, and Costa said that supporting one another gets the team through it. 

“We’re all pushing through together,” Costa said. “That’s what makes us such a strong team.”

The athletic training clinics located in the Athletics & Events Center and the Hill Center host open clinic hours each day for athletes to come in and voice their concerns. Costa said that utilizing these clinics and receiving proper treatment is an essential part of making sure her team is physically prepared for the demands of its scheduled invitationals. 

Costa said her high school experience with the sport helped her to feel more prepared for the busy collegiate schedule. Outside of the Bomber Invitational, all of the team’s six invitationals this season take place on the road. The weekend-long events can put stress on the body and mind — in high school, Costa said she had a similar itinerary. 

“We would do day tournaments and we would have to play up to six games a day,” Costa said. “College is such a fast pace and the players are more skilled; it’s a lot harder psychologically and on the body.”

Despite the intensity, Costa said that traveling with her team fosters some of the most valuable team building opportunities throughout the semester. Through lengthy bus rides and rooming together in hotels, the athletes grow especially close on the road, allowing them to further support one another under the strain of a busy schedule.

“It definitely bonds us,” Costa said. “When we’re away at tournaments, the bus rides are four to five hours long — that’s definitely a lot of team bonding we have there.” 

With two more multi-header invitationals on the Bombers’ schedule, Costa said the support of her coaches keeps the team going strong. On Oct. 13–14, the Bombers will head north for the RIT Invitational where they will face the Rochester Institute of Technology, Stevens Institute of Technology and Denison University.

The high-energy atmosphere of the invitationals is something Costa said has played an instrumental role in keeping her team sharp and building chemistry — something she looks forward to as she finishes out her career in Bomber threads.

“Our coaches are there to support us, it’s a great environment,” Costa said. “Overall we feel great and the chemistry is great. We’re so excited for the upcoming schedule we have.”

Leave a Comment
Donate to THE ITHACAN
$1375
$2000
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will support The Ithacan's student journalists in their effort to keep the Ithaca College and wider Ithaca community informed. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Walker Borgmann, Photographer
Donate to THE ITHACAN
$1375
$2000
Contributed
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Ithacan Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *