NEW YORK - Coming off a program-best season, the Columbia volleyball team will look to continue its winning ways as they begin 2013. The Lions head west to Evanston, Ill. to open with the Wildcat Challenge from September 6-7. Columbia will take on host Northwestern, Boise State and Belmont in the two-day tournament at Welsh-Ryan Arena.

The Lions will kickoff the series on Friday, Sep. 6 at 1 p.m. EDT against Northwestern, followed by a 6 p.m. nightcap versus Boise State. Columbia will wrap up the tournament with a Saturday showdown against Belmont, slated to begin at 11 a.m. All three teams are first-time opponents for the Lions.

Columbia will look to build upon the success of last season after closing out 2012 on a five-match winning steak to go 14-9 overall and 9-5 in the Ivy League, earning a tie for second place in the conference, the highest finish in school history.

Despite the loss of three All-Ivy League selections, Columbia head coach Jon Wilson returns nine letterwinners joined by five standout newcomers to the 2013 squad.

Returning home to familiar territory will be senior setter and two-time captain Colleen Brennan, who attended nearby Glenbrook South High School in Glenview, Ill. Brennan saw action in all 23 matches last season and ranked third in the Ivy League with 8.24 assists per set. She also tallied a team-high 618 assists to boost her into third all-time in the Columbia record book.

Molly Winger solidified the Columbia defensive unit a year ago with a team-leading 251 digs to rank second on the team with 3.26 digs per set.

A promising returner, Atlanta Moye-McLaren saw action in all 23 matches in her first-year debut as a Lion, earning a pair of Player of the Week and Co-Rookie of the Week accolades.

Northwestern (1-2) opened the 2013 slate on the road at the Holiday Inn West Invitational in Kalamazoo, Mich. over Labor Day weekend. The Wildcats dropped their first two matches to Western Michigan and Oklahoma before picking up their first win of their year over Milwaukee in five sets. Stephanie Holthus leads the team in kills with 52, while Carolina Niedospial is the team leader in digs with 57.

Boise State (1-2) kicked off the season last weekend in Portland, Ore. at the sixth annual Northwest Challenge, where they went 1-2 overall, including a 3-2 victory over Gonzaga. The Broncos were led by Taylor Murphey, who recorded 35 kills for a 3.18 per set average while hitting 30.1 percent on the weekend.

Belmont (1-3) hosted its own Belmont Invitational to begin the year, falling to Memphis and Miami (OH) while defeating Gardner-Webb, 3-2. The Bruins then fell in their first match on the road at No. 16 Western Kentucky by a 3-1 score. Leading the way through the first four matches has been first-year Jessica Vestal, who leads Belmont with 59 kills, senior Jamie Lundstrom with 69 digs, and senior Hannah Miranda with a team-best 169 assists.

All tournament games this weekend will be available to follow on Gametracker via the Northwestern athletics site.

Tournament Schedule

Friday, September 6
1 p.m. - Columbia vs. Northwestern / Live Stats
6 p.m. - Columbia vs. Boise State / Live Stats

Saturday, September 7
11 a.m. - Columbia vs. Belmont / Live Stats

*All times EDT
Please note:  The view links will only be available after the game start time.