|Kills||Sara Lindquist (7)||Anja Malesevic (16)|
|Assists||Maddie Schoenberger (16)||Grace Campbell (41)|
|Digs||Danielle Glinka (10)||Natasha Kosowicz (13)|
|Blocks||Carly Tower (3)||Chichi Ikwuazom (7)|
NEW YORK — Columbia recorded its highest hitting percentage of the season on its way to a three-set sweep of Dartmouth (25-18, 25-23, 25-18) Friday night in Ivy League volleyball action at Levien Gymnasium.
The Lions (12-9, 7-4 Ivy) battered Dartmouth (8-14, 1-10 Ivy) to the tune of a .373 hitting percentage, including a blistering .545 mark in the final set. Junior Anja Malesevic led the onslaught, matching her career-high of 16 kills and finishing the night at .483. Sophomore Luciana Del Valle played in just two of the three sets and hit .471 with 10 kills, while fellow sophomore Natasha Kosowicz also reached double figures with an even 10 knocks. Kosowicz added 13 digs for her second double-double of the season.
On the block, the presence of first-year Chichi Ikwuazom was felt, once again. The New York City native entered the week 16th in the nation in blocks per set (1.43) and improved on those numbers with a match-high seven rejections (2.33 per set). Senior Kesi Neblett added two, inching closer to becoming the third Lion in program history to achieve 300 in a career (293), as Columbia played to a 9-4 advantage on the block.
Columbia came back from 14-10 down with a 13-3 run to take control and win the opening set. Kills by Malesevic, Kosowicz and Neblett, coupled with an ace by Malesevic and two aces by senior Sarah Gurbach were all part of the run. First-year Chichi Ikwuazom delivered a kill to present the Lions with set point, which they converted on a kill by senior Zoe Jacobs.
The second set was Columbia’s worst attacking set of the night, but the Lions still outhit Dartmouth .265 to .200 and rallied to take a two-set lead. Dartmouth led by as many as five after a Malesevic attacking error gave the Big Green a 14-9 advantage. The Lions chipped away, pulling within one for the first time at 18-17 and then leveling the set at 19. Dartmouth called time and the two sides traded the next six points, all without Columbia taking the lead. However, the Lions broke through, as first-year setter Grace Campbell made a fantastic effort to keep a 22-all rally alive and was rewarded by the block of Kosowicz and Ikwuazom. It gave the Lions their first lead of the set, 23-22, and all the momentum to go along with it. Ikwuazom skied for another block to earn set point and Columbia took the 2-0 lead on a kill by Kosowicz.
The 10-minute break did nothing to cool the Lions down, as they jumped out to a 10-5 lead in the third and never trailed after that. Dartmouth got as close as two and were still within striking distance, 15-12, when Columbia found a whole new gear to put the match away. Consecutive kills by Malesevic and Del Valle followed by a block from Neblett doubled the lead to six. Dartmouth called timeout trailing 19-13, but Columbia kept its foot on the gas, opening up a seven-point margin at 21-14 and putting away seemingly every attack. Columbia’s 20th kill of the set came from Del Valle to cap a .545 team hitting percentage and earn the Lions their seventh sweep of the season.
The Lions return to Levien Gymnasium on Saturday for Senior Day against Harvard. The careers of seniors Zoe Jacobs, Sarah Gurbach, Cassie Wes and Kesi Neblett will all be honored in a pregame ceremony, which begins at 5 p.m.