|Kills||G. Roberts Burbank (14)||Anja Malesevic (27)|
|Assists||Erin McCarthy (53)||Audrey Cheng (56)|
|Aces||Anna Uhr (3)||Grace Campbell (5)|
|Digs||Anna Uhr (19)||Kalie Wood (18)|
||Maclaine Fields (4)
Christina Cornelius (4)
|Chichi Ikwuazom (9)
NEW YORK — Behind another career night from senior Anja Malesevic, the Columbia volleyball team pulled off its third straight win, rallying to defeat Harvard in five sets (18-25, 25-21, 20-25, 25-23, 15-11) Friday night at Levien Gymnasium.
Columbia (8-10, 3-6 Ivy) trailed the match 2-1 and faced a 16-9 deficit in the fourth set. That’s when it all turned around, as back-to-back kills by junior Natasha Kosowicz and sophomore Chichi Ikwuazom provided the spark to a 9-3 run that brought the Lions all the way back within a point. Harvard (11-7, 6-3 Ivy), which came into the match tied for second in the Ivy League standings, tried to hold on, but two more Kosowicz kills gave the Lions their first lead of the set, 22-21, and all the momentum to go along with it. Malesevic put down the kill to give Columbia set point and sophomore libero Kalie Wood converted with an ace to send the match to a fifth.
The Lions came out on fire in the final frame, winning the first five points and leading 8-1 at the changeover. A kill by junior Luciana Del Valle extended the lead to 10-3, but Harvard put together one final push to make things interesting. The Crimson scored seven of the next nine points to pull within a pair, 12-10, but Malesevic put an end to Harvard’s rally with the final three kills to seal the victory.
Malesevic ended the night with a career-high 27 kills, including six kills and a .455 hitting percentage in the final set. The reigning Ivy League Player of the Week had at least five kills in each set and has now recorded 19 or more kills in each of her last four outings.
“I’m just playing as a part of the team and doing my job,” said Malesevic in a post-match interview. “Audrey [Cheng], our freshman setter, is doing a great job. Our passing has been good and we served tough tonight. The entire team is playing great and I’m just able to capitalize with kills.”
The win improved the Lions to 5-1 at home on the year. Columbia has won 14 of its last 16 matches contested at Levien Gymnasium dating back to last season, including nine of its last 11 Ivy League matches. The Lions have also defeated Harvard in six of eight series meetings in New York since 2010.
“I’m proud of us for recovering from a couple of dips we had through the match,” head coach Brie Katz stated. “I don’t think we could have expected Anja to have career matches three weeks in a row, but she did, and it has really helped. We also had some really great contributions from some servers like Grace [Campbell], Jamie [Dailey] and Kate [Hefner], who saw the court tonight for the first time in a while in that capacity. They did a really nice job delivering some tough serves and keeping Harvard out of system.”
Columbia’s service game accounted for 13 aces, tying for the team’s highest output of the season. Sophomore Grace Campbell tallied a match-high five aces, including at least one in each of the last four sets. First-year setter Audrey Cheng added three to go with a career-high 56 assists. Seven Lions ended the night with at least one ace.
Aside from Malesevic’s 27 kills, Columbia’s attack was bolstered by 14 kills from Kosowicz and 10 form Ikwuazom. Kosowicz had seven kills as part of Columbia’s comeback in the fourth set and also came up with 15 digs for her first double-double of the year. Ikwuazom ended the night hitting .474 and was a force once again on defense with a match-high nine blocks. The New York native has had at least nine rejections in each of her last three contests.
For Harvard, Grace Roberts Burbank led the attack with 14 kills. Five of the Crimson landed in double figures, while Erin McCarthy earned 53 assists on the team’s 56 total kills. Anna Uhr tallied 19 digs, just ahead of Columbia’s Kalie Wood (18) for the most on the evening.
The Lions welcome Dartmouth to Levien Gymnasium on Saturday. First serve is slated for 5 p.m.