|Kills||Parker Jones (18)||Anja Malesevic (22)|
|Assists||Sydney Morton (55)||Audrey Cheng (48)|
|Aces||Four Tied (1)||Kalie Wood (5)|
|Digs||Sydney Morton (18)||Kalie Wood (18)|
|Blocks||Brooke Behrbaum (4)||Anja Malesevic (6)|
NEW YORK — The Columbia volleyball team nearly pulled off an incredible comeback to begin 2017 Homecoming Weekend, but came up just shy in a five-set thriller against Penn (24-26, 25-20, 15-25, 25-20, 13-15) on Friday night at Levien Gymnasium.
Columbia (5-10, 0-6 Ivy) found itself down 9-3 to begin the fifth, but scored the next four points to storm back. The run continued with Columbia’s 10th ace of the match before a block by senior Anja Malesevic and first-year Kaitlin Schultz brought the New York crowd to its feet with the Lions on top, 11-10. Columbia remained ahead, 12-11, until Penn tallied three consecutive points to earn two shots at the match. The Lions saved the first on a kill by junior Natasha Kosowicz, but Raven Sulaimon clinched the road victory with her 13th kill of the evening.
Aside from the final set, one of the biggest moments of the match came in the first. The Lions led by as many as seven, 15-8, but Penn (8-7, 3-3 Ivy) came all the way back by scoring the next six points before grabbing the lead for the first time, 21-20. Two blocks by sophomore Chichi Ikwuazom presented Columbia with set point, 24-23, but Penn turned in three straight kills to steal the set, 26-24, and ultimately win the match.
Despite the loss, Columbia got a career performance by its lone senior. Malesevic posted 22 kills and six blocks, both of which led all players and both of which were new career bests. Six of her kills came in the fourth set, which saw Columbia lead by as many as eight. The Serbian bested her previous career-high in kills by six, a mark which she had tied twice earlier in the season.
Junior Luciana Del Valle and first-year Audrey Cheng each finished the night with double-doubles. Del Valle registered 13 kills and matched her season-high of 15 digs for her team-leading fourth double-double. The captain also owned Columbia’s top hitting percentage of the night of .387. Cheng, a rookie, set a season mark with 48 assists and earned her third double-double by adding 11 digs. All told, four Lions reached double figures in digs, led by sophomore Kalie Wood’s 18.
The Lions finished the evening with 10 blocks and 10 aces, marking the first time this season they had at least 10 of each in the same match. They outblocked Penn by three and were victim to only four aces, but the Quakers outhit Columbia, .227 to .210. Penn posted 67 kills to outduel the Lions by nine.
Parker Jones led the Penn attack with 18 kills and was one of four Quakers to reach double figures. Jones ended the night with a double-double by adding 16 digs, as did setter Sydney Morton who racked up a match-highs of 55 assists and 18 digs. Five Quakers reached double digits in the digs column.
The loss was just Columbia’s fourth in its last 10 meetings against Penn. Last season, the Lions earned their first season sweep over the Quakers in series history, which included a five-set victory at Levien Gymnasium.
Columbia will go up against the defending Ivy League champions on Saturday when it hosts Princeton (12-4, 5-1 Ivy) at 5 p.m. The Tigers were just handed their first loss of the Ivy League season on Friday night at Cornell in four sets.