|Kills||Maggie O'Connell (16)||Anja Malesevic (19)|
|Assists||Jessie Harris (30)||Audrey Cheng (44)|
|Aces||Jessie Harris (2)||Anja Malesevic (2)|
|Digs||Devon Peterkin (16)||Kalie Wood (17)|
|Blocks||Four tied (2)||Chichi Ikwuazom (9)|
NEW YORK — Sophomore Chichi Ikwuazom hit .625 with 17 kills and nine blocks to lead the Columbia volleyball team to its first victory of the Ivy League season in thrilling five-set fashion (25-20, 17-25, 25-23, 13-25, 15-8) over Princeton on Homecoming Saturday at Levien Gymnasium.
Columbia (6-10, 1-6 Ivy) set the tone early by dominating the first set to go on top. After Princeton (12-5, 5-2 Ivy) responded in the second to level the match, the two sides played a nail biter in the third that ultimately went Columbia’s way. The Lions scored the first four points of the set and never trailed, but Princeton rallied to tie the score at 10 and again in the final stages at 23. However, Columbia held on, earning set point off a Tiger attacking error and going up 2-1 off an Ikwuazom blast.
Princeton hit .406 in a convincing fourth-set victory to set up Columbia’s second straight five-set match in as many days. This time around, the Lions turned in a near perfect final frame on the attack, hitting .750 with nine kills on 12 attempts and going 8-for-8 on sideout chances to earn their first victory over Princeton since 2012.
“We’ve been looking forward to this weekend for a while,” said Brie Katz, who earned her first victory over the Tigers since taking over as head coach in 2014. “Being on the road three weekends in a row to start the Ivy League season was tough. We’re so happy to be at home in front of our families and alumni. We had a good match last night against Penn and we were looking to carry that momentum into tonight, which we did. I’m really proud of the team."
Ikwuazom’s 17 kills marked a season-high while her .625 hitting percentage was the best mark of her career when taking at least 20 attempts. The reigning Ivy League Co-Rookie of the Year also turned in her fifth career match with at least nine blocks, leading the Lions to a season-high 14 as a team. Columbia’s block total was its highest since defeating Yale in five sets on September 30 of last season.
Less than 24 hours after posting a career-high 22 kills, senior Anja Malesevic racked up 19 more to lead all competitors. It came on 61 attempts, the most of her four-year career, while the Serbian native also turned in four blocks and led all players with two aces and 23 total points.
First-year setter Audrey Cheng set the Columbia offense and tallied 44 assists off the Lions’ 51 total kills. Princeton edged the Lions, .237 to .212, in hitting, but Columbia committed seven fewer errors on top of a lopsided 14-5 advantage on the block.
Maggie O’Connell hit .286 with a team-high 16 kills for Princeton. She was one of three Tigers to post at least 10 kills, joining Natasha Skov (15) and Carolina Sklaver (12). Sklaver was the most effective at a .417 clip. Devon Peterkin led a trio of Tigers in double-figure digs with 16.
Columbia begins the second half of Ivy League play next Saturday when it hosts Cornell (8-8, 4-3 Ivy) at 2 p.m. The Big Red are coming off a big weekend in which they downed both Princeton and Penn in Ithaca.