NEW YORK — Riding the longest winning streak in the Ivy League, the Columbia volleyball team plays its final two road matches of the season this weekend when it takes on Princeton and Penn. The Lions battle the Tigers on Friday at 7 p.m., followed by the Quakers on Saturday at 5 p.m.
Fans can watch the Lions all weekend long on the Ivy League Network. Live stats will be provided by GoPrincetonTigers.com and PennAthletics.com.
Columbia (9-10, 4-6 Ivy) has bounced back from an 0-6 Ivy League start to win its last four matches. The winning streak began two weekends ago with a thrilling five-set victory over Princeton, marking Columbia’s first triumph over the Tigers since 2012. The Lions made it back-to-back wins the following Saturday with a four-set victory against Cornell, and earned a pair of wins last weekend against Harvard and Dartmouth. Senior Anja Malesevic had back-to-back 27-kill matches to lead the Lions last weekend on her way to being named Ivy League Player of the Week for a second consecutive week. Columbia is now sixth in the Ivy League standings, just two games behind Harvard (6-4) and Cornell (6-4) for third place. The Lions are hoping to get back to .500 on the season overall for the first time since September 29.
MALESEVIC COLLECTS SECOND STRAIGHT POTW NOD
Anja Malesevic earned her second consecutive Ivy League Player of the Week selection on Monday. The senior had a career weekend in victories over Harvard and Dartmouth, highlighted by her back-to-back 27-kill efforts. The performances tie for the fifth-most kills in a match in program history and are the most by a Lion since Erin Longinotti had 27 in five sets against Dartmouth on Oct. 9, 2009. Malesevic hit .289 and averaged 6.00 kills, 2.33 digs and 0.78 blocks per set on the week. She leads the Ivy League in both kills per set (3.91) and points per set (4.46), and also leads all league competitors in conference play with 4.24 kills per set and 4.86 points per set. Additionally, Malesevic was recognized by VolleyMob.com as a notable performer in its National Player of the Week article.
CLIMBING THE CHARTS
Anja Malesevic enters the weekend among the top 50 in the NCAA in points per set (4.46) and among the top 60 in kills per set (3.91). The senior has recorded at least 20 kills in four of her last five matches, which includes a 25-kill performance in a victory over Cornell (Oct. 21) and consecutive 27-kill performances in victories over Harvard (Oct. 27) and Dartmouth (Oct. 28). Over her last five matches, Malesevic has totaled 120 kills and has averaged 5.22 kills per set. On top of her kill total, the Serbian native has tallied seven aces, 21 blocks (0.91/set) and 50 digs (2.17/set) to earn two double-doubles. Malesevic has also accumulated 137.5 points over her last five matches (5.98/set), accounting for more than half of her season total (258.5).
CHENG SELECTED IVY ROOKE OF THE WEEK
Setter Audrey Cheng totaled 111 assists and averaged 12.33 assists per set to earn her second Ivy League Rookie of the Week selection of the season. Cheng started with a career-high 56 assists in five sets against the Crimson and went for 55 more assists in only four sets on Saturday against Dartmouth. Her 56 assists are the most by any player in an Ivy League match this season. The rookie climbed to fourth in the Ivy League on the season in assists per set (8.36) and averages even more assists in Ivy League play (9.23). She was also selected Rookie of the Week earlier in the month for matches contested Oct. 9-15.
CHICHI CONTINUES HER DOMINANCE
Sophomore middle Chichi Ikwuazom sits atop the Ivy League in hitting percentage (.391) and blocks per set (1.30) entering the weekend. 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. The next week, she tied a career-high with 11 blocks in just four sets against Cornell (Oct. 21). Last weekend, she had back-to-back 10-kill matches, including a .474 hitting percentage and nine blocks in the victory over Harvard (Oct. 27). The New York native ranks No. 33 nationally in hitting percentage and No. 38 nationally in blocks per set. Across Ivy League play, Ikwuazom leads all competitors with an even more impressive 1.58 blocks per set.
ACING THE COMPETITION
Columbia has ranked among the top-10 nationally in aces per set all season long and enters the weekend at No. 4 in the NCAA statistical rankings (1.76). The Lions have gone for 10 or more aces in five matches, including a season-high 13 aces in last Friday’s five-set victory over Harvard (Oct. 27). Sophomore libero Kalie Wood had five aces against the Penn (Oct. 13) and has taken over the team lead with 28 on the campaign. Wood also ranks No. 85 nationally in aces per set (0.37), a mark which ranks No. 2 in the Ivy League.
Columbia has won nine of its last 10 and 15 of its last 17 matches at Levien Gymnasium dating back to last season. The Lions are 6-1 this season at home, including a five-set victory over two-time defending Ivy League champion Princeton (Oct. 14). 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 eight-game series winning streak.
Total Kills – Anja Malesevic (227, 3.91/set*)
Hitting Pct. – Chichi Ikwuazom (.391*)
Total Assists – Audrey Cheng (468, 8.36/set)
Total Digs – Kalie Wood (285, 3.80/set)
Total Aces – Kalie Wood (28, 0.37/set)
Total Blocks – Chichi Ikwuazom (86, 1.30/set*)
Total Points – Anja Malesevic (258.5, 4.46/set*)
* Leads the Ivy League
Week 3 (Sep. 11-17)
- Honor Roll: Chichi Ikwuazom
Week 6 (Oct. 2-8)
- Honor Roll: Audrey Cheng
Princeton (14-6, 7-3 Ivy) sits in second place in the Ivy League standings, just one game behind Yale (8-2 Ivy) with two weeks to go. The Tigers had a chance to get level with the Bulldogs last Friday, but were swept on their home court (25-22, 25-21, 25-15). Since suffering its first loss of the Ivy League season on Oct. 13 at Cornell, Princeton is 2-3 over its last five league matches, which also includes a five-set defeat at the hands of Columbia (Oct. 14). The Tigers lead the Ivy League in kills (13.81/set) and assists (12.95/set). Natasha Skov (3.33 kills/set) and Maggie O’Connell (3.26 kills/set) are the primary threats on the attack. Nnenna Ibe is hitting a team-best .343 and ranks third in the Ivy League in hitting percentage. Maddie Huber ranks third in digs (4.08/set).
INSIDE THE SERIES
Columbia will be looking for its first victory at Princeton since sweeping the season series in 2010. The Tigers lead the all-time matchup 44-7, but the Lions are coming off a victory on Oct. 14 at Levien Gymnasium which snapped Princeton’s eight-match series winning streak.
The Quakers (10-9, 5-5 Ivy) are coming off an impressive weekend in which they swept Brown and defeated league-leading Yale in five sets (21-25, 25-18, 25-20, 25-27, 15-13). Parker Jones had 18 kills against the Bulldogs and is second in the Ivy League in kills per set (3.36) behind Columbia’s Anja Malesevic. Hayley Molnar (16), Kendall Covington (11) and Raven Sulaimon (11) all also posted double-figure kills against the Bulldogs. Molnar was most impressive with a .382 hitting percentage. Penn has struggled this season with blocking, ranking last in the Ivy League at just 1.76 per set. The Quakers are 4-3 at home and 3-2 inside the Palestra against Ivy League competition.
INSIDE THE SERIES
Penn is the only Ivy League team to defeat Columbia at home this season. The Lions will hope to avoid their first season sweep at the hands of the Quakers since 2010. Penn heads the all-time matchup, 42-8, but the Lions are 6-4 over the last 10 series meetings. Columbia won last year’s matchup in Philadelphia in four sets to secure its ninth Ivy League victory of the season, tying for the most in program history.