|Kills||Mallen Bischoff (18)||Anja Malesevic (27)|
|Assists||Tori Dozier (36)||Audrey Cheng (55)|
|Aces||Maddy Schoenberger (1)||Kalie Wood (2)|
|Digs||Tori Dozier (19)||Kalie Wood (21)|
|Blocks||Three tied (4)||Chichi Ikwuazom (6)|
NEW YORK — Senior Anja Malesevic posted her second straight 27-kill match to lead the Columbia volleyball team to its fourth consecutive victory, a four-set decision over Dartmouth (23-25, 25-18, 25-20, 25-17) on Saturday evening at Levien Gymnasium.
Less than 48 hours after recording a new career-high with 27 kills in Friday night’s five-set win over Harvard, Malesevic racked up 27 more in just four sets against the Big Green. The Serbian native had eight kills in the final set, two of which accounted for the final two points of the match. She hit .290 on 62 attempts and also added 13 digs for her third double-double of the season. The reigning Ivy League Player of the Week finished the weekend averaging an astounding 6.00 kills per set, and has recorded 20 or more kills in four of her last five matches.
“She has been exceptional,” said head coach Brie Katz on the play of Malesevic. “She’s really aware of the impact her energy has on the team. It’s really nice to see her step up and have the rest of the team follow suit.”
Columbia (9-10, 4-6 Ivy) posted its best hitting percentage of the Ivy League season and outdueled the best blocking team in the Ivy League to earn the victory. The Lions finished the night hitting .273 while Dartmouth (7-12, 3-7 Ivy) checked in at just .168. The attacking prowess included a large 64-45 advantage in kills. Junior Luciana Del Valle was good for 15 and a .324 hitting percentage, while sophomore Chichi Ikwuazom hit .304 with an even 10 kills. Del Valle added to the night with 16 digs for her team-leading fifth double-double. Ikwuazom was responsible for six of the Lions’ 10 blocks, while Malesevic and sophomore Rose Compton each tallied four.
“The team is feeling a lot more confident in what we’re doing the longer the season has progressed,” Del Valle said. “Every kill and every point is a combination of everybody on the court doing their job. It’s awesome to see Anja doing so well. She has stepped up so much and I love seeing her do that for the team.”
The team effort also included a match-high 21 digs from sophomore libero Kalie Wood. All told, four Lions reached double figures in digs, including Del Valle (16), junior Natasha Kosowicz (14) and Malesevic (13). First-year setter Audrey Cheng was good for 55 assists, one off her career-high of 56 set in Friday night’s win against Harvard.
The victory improved the Lions to 6-1 on the year at home. Columbia has won 15 of its last 17 matches contested at Levien Gymnasium, including 10 of its last 12 Ivy League matches dating back to last season.
The Lions recovered from dropping a tight first set to reel off the final three in Saturday’s victory. Dartmouth looked to be running away with the opener at 22-15, but Columbia scored six straight before eventually leveling the score at 23. Despite the rally, Dartmouth held on as two straight errors handed the Big Green the set.
The Lions were in control from there. They tied the match at a set apiece by hitting .387 with an 88 percent sideout percentage (16-18) in the second. Malesevic and Del Valle had six kills each in the frame with Del Valle hitting an errorless .667. Leading 21-17, the Lions scored four of the final five points on two kills by Malesevic and an ace by Wood.
The two sides played a tough third set that went a long way in deciding the match. The set saw seven ties and five lead changes, the final tie coming at 17 before Columbia pulled ahead with four straight points. The run included two more kills by Malesevic and another Wood ace. Malesevic was also responsible for the final kill that put the home team in front by a set.
Columbia rode that momentum into the fourth where they never trailed to cement the victory. The Lions scored the first four points of the set and built a seven-point lead, 19-12, on back-to-back kills by Malesevic and Ikwuazom. Dartmouth only ever got back within five before Malesevic polished off the night and Columbia’s fourth straight Ivy League victory.
The Lions make their final road trip of the season next weekend when they visit Princeton and Penn. The Tigers are up first on Friday at 7 p.m., followed by a bus ride to Penn on Saturday for a 5 p.m. start.