NEW YORK — Winners of two straight, the Columbia volleyball team concludes a five-match homestand this weekend when it hosts Harvard and Dartmouth. The Crimson visit Levien Gymnasium Friday night at 7 p.m., followed by a matchup against the Big Green on Saturday at 5 p.m.
Fans who are unable to attend this weekend's matches can watch the Lions on the Ivy League Network. Live stats will also be available courtesy of GoColumbiaLions.com. Fans can also follow the matches on Twitter by following @CUVB.
Columbia (7-10. 2-6 Ivy) had just one match last week and made the most of it with a four-set victory over Cornell (25-20, 25-15, 23-25, 25-19). Three Lions posted career marks, highlighted by senior Anja Malesevic’s 25 kills. The Serbian native had at least five kills in each set, which included a hitting percentage of .714 in a dominating second set. It marked the most kills by a Lion in an Ivy League match since 2010. Junior Natasha Kosowicz tallied a career-high 22 digs in the victory, while sophomore Chichi Ikwuazom matched her career-high with 11 blocks. It marked Ikwuazom’s fourth career 10-block match and was just one block shy of the program record of 12.
MALESEVIC TABBED PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Senior Anja Malesevic earned her second career Ivy League Player of the Week selection on Monday. Malesevic posted a career-high 25 kills in Columbia’s only match of the week to lead the Lions in a four-set victory over Cornell. She became the first Lion to record 25 kills in a match since Bailey Springer in 2013, and is the first Lion to do so against an Ivy League opponent since three-time First Team All-Ivy League selection Megan Gaughn racked up 26 in a four-set victory over Dartmouth on October 26, 2010. Malesevic added 11 digs on Saturday to earn her fifth career double-double and second of the season. Originally from Belgrade, Serbia, Malesevic also tallied four blocks and led all players with three aces in the contest to finish the afternoon with a career-high 30.0 points.
With her stellar performance, Malesevic took over the Ivy League lead in kills per set (3.53) and points per set (4.10). She also heads all competitors in both categories in conference play with 3.68 kills per set and 4.38 points per set.
Columbia has won seven of its last eight and 13 of its last 15 matches at Levien Gymnasium dating back to last season. The Lions are 4-1 this season at home, including a five-set victory over two-time defending Ivy League champion Princeton (Oct. 14) and a four-set victory last Saturday over Cornell (Oct. 21). Last season, the Lions went 11-3 at home, which included a 6-1 mark in Ivy League play.
TAMING THE TIGERS
Columbia earned its first win over Princeton since 2012 with a five-set victory on Oct. 14 (25-20, 17-25, 25-23, 13-25, 15-8). Columbia hit .750 with nine kills in the final set to defeat the Tigers. Sophomore Chichi Ikwuazom led the Lions to victory by hitting .625 with a season-high 17 kills and match-high nine blocks. Ikwuazom posted six of her blocks in the third set to help the Lions go up 2-1, and was a perfect 3-for-3 on the attack in the final set to help seal Columbia’s first league win of the season. The victory put an end to Princeton’s seven-game series winning streak.
ACING THE COMPETITION
Columbia has ranked among the top-10 nationally in aces per set all season long and enters the weekend at No. 9 in the NCAA statistical rankings (1.74). The Lions have gone for 10 or more aces in four matches, including a season-high 13 aces on opening weekend against The Citadel (Sept. 2). Columbia posted double-digit aces for the first time in Ivy League play with 10 against Penn (Oct. 13). Sophomore libero Kalie Wood had five aces against the Quakers and has taken over the team lead with 25 on the campaign. Wood also ranks No. 82 nationally in aces per set (0.38), a mark which ranks No. 2 in the Ivy League.
CHICHI LEADING THE WAY
Sophomore middle Chichi Ikwuazom sits atop the Ivy League in hitting percentage at .392 entering the week. The reigning Ivy League Co-Rookie of the Year had a season-high 17 kills and hit .625 in the five-set victory over Princeton (Oct. 14), all while also adding a match-high nine blocks. Last Saturday, she tied a career-high with 11 blocks in just four sets against Cornell (Oct. 21). The New York native now leads the Ivy League in blocks per set (1.25), which places her No. 61 nationally. In Ivy League play, Ikwuazom leads all competitors with an even more impressive 1.54 blocks per set.
Total Kills – Anja Malesevic (173, 3.53/set*)
Hitting Pct. – Chichi Ikwuazom (.392*)
Total Assists – Audrey Cheng (357, 7.60/set)
Total Digs – Kalie Wood (246, 3.73/set)
Total Aces – Kalie Wood (25, 0.38/set)
Total Blocks – Chichi Ikwuazom (71, 1.25/set*)
Total Points – Anja Malesevic (201.0, 4.10/set*)
* Leads the Ivy League
IVY LEAGUE HONORS
Week 2 (Sep. 4-10)
- Rookie of the Week: Jamie Dailey
- Honor Roll: Luciana Del Valle, Anja Malesevic
Week 3 (Sep. 11-17)
- Honor Roll: Chichi Ikwuazom
Week 4 (Sep. 18-24)
- Honor Roll: Jamie Dailey, Chichi Ikwuazom
Week 6 (Oct. 2-8)
- Honor Roll: Audrey Cheng
Week 7 (Oct. 9-15)
- Rookie of the Week: Audrey Cheng
- Honor Roll: Anja Malesevic, Chichi Ikwuazom
Week 8 (Oct. 16-22)
- Player of the Week: Anja Malesevic
- Honor Roll: Chichi Ikwuazom, Natasha Kosowicz, Audrey Cheng
Harvard (11-6, 6-2 Ivy) finds itself one game back of Yale (7-1 Ivy) for first place in the league standings. Currently, the Crimson are tied for the No. 2 spot with Princeton. The Tigers and Bulldogs account for Harvard’s only two losses of the league season. Last weekend, the Crimson defeated Dartmouth in three close sets (25-23, 25-22, 25-23). Grace Roberts Burbank racked up 17 kills and a .300 hitting percentage to lead the attack, upping her season average to a team-best 2.92 kills per set. Erin McCarthy tallied 40 assists and leads the Ivy League with 10.45 assists per set.
INSIDE THE SERIES
Harvard holds a 38-16 lead in the all-time series, but the Lions have contested the series nearly even since 2010. Columbia is 6-8 against the Crimson over the last 14 meetings, including a 5-2 mark over the last seven seasons at Levien Gymnasium. Harvard won this year’s first series meeting in three sets, but the Lions were victorious the last time the two sides met in New York. Led by the efforts of its senior class, Columbia earned a four-set victory in last year’s home finale (25-20, 30-32, 29-27, 25-14).
After a 2-1 start to the Ivy League season, Dartmouth (7-10, 3-5 Ivy) has gone 1-4 over its last five contests, including last weekend’s three-set loss to Harvard. Dartmouth dropped three straight league matches from Oct. 6-13, falling in four sets at both Princeton and Penn before returning home only to get swept by Yale. The Big Green’s only Ivy League win of the month came Oct. 14 when they swept Brown. Freshman Tori Dozier had her second double-double of the weekend in that match with 26 assists and 10 digs. Dozier heads the team and ranks among the top 10 in the Ivy League in hitting percentage (.291), assists (7.66/set) and digs (3.42/set).
INSIDE THE SERIES
Dartmouth holds a 25-22 edge in the all-time series, but Columbia has dominated the series 11-4 since 2010. The Big Green got the better of Columbia with a three-set sweep earlier this season in Hanover. The Lions won seven straight series meetings and 10 of 11 from 2010-14, including five straight in Hanover. Columbia swept the season series in 2016 by winning six of seven sets contested.