Harvard (15-11 overall) freshmen Volleyball player Christina Cornelius became the Rookie of the Year for Division I Women’s Volleyball in the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC) last Thursday. This honor came a week after Cornelius earned a spot on the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) All-East Region teams.
“I was really shocked, I had no idea that I was up for this,” said Cornelius. “It was amazing and I just really feel blessed to be able to get all this recognition.”
Cornelius’ performance made her Ivy League Rookie of the Year and a member of the All-Ivy League first team. She also received AVCA All-Region Honorable Mention, Harvard Athletics reports.
Cornelius is ranked 13th in Ivy League in total blocks and led the Ivy League in blocks per set at 1.55. Her hitting percentage has ranked second; Cornelius also set a new program record in block assists, according to Harvard Athletics.
During the season, Cornelius delivered 80 digs, 11 aces, and 161 kills, according ECAC Sports. This helped the Crimson to earn their second straight conference title and their first appearance in the NCAA tournament in team history. Harvard took every team they played against seriously, according to Cornelius.
“We had the mentality that we had to win every game,” Cornelius said. “Although some games, we didn’t come out on top, we still knew that each game was a new opportunity to win and get closer to our goal.”
The trip to the NCAA tournament caused the team to rely on each other more; the mutual new experience brought the team closer according to Cornelius.
“It was probably like the most intense team bonding ever,” Cornelius said. “We were all going through this together; all like rookies again, all kinda had to rely on each other.”
The Crimson played against Nebraska in the first round and scored one set against Nebraska. However, Nebraska advanced to the next round.
In October, Cornelius sprained her ankle and had to sit out three games. Cornelius noted this was her first major injury.
“It was a new experience,” said Cornelius. “Being able to come back and trust my body and just not be afraid to walk or to move that was I used to, that was probably the biggest challenge.”
Cornelius looks forward to making improvements for her sophomore season.
“The freshmen and I have been saying that since we made it to the tournament our freshmen year, our goal is to make it again and make it farther,” Cornelius said. “Each year, we just want to be able to make it a little bit farther.”