NEW YORK —Columbia volleyball will honor the career of senior Anja Malesevic during the final weekend of the regular season. Levien Gymnasium will play host to Brown on Friday night at 7 p.m., followed by Senior Night against Yale on Saturday at 5 p.m.
Fans unable to attend can watch the Lions all weekend long on the Ivy League Network. Live stats will be available on GoColumbiaLions.com.
Anja Malesevic, Columbia’s lone senior, will be recognized before the start of Saturday’s season finale. The four-year member of the volleyball program enters the weekend having played in 83 career matches with 674 kills, 328 digs, 133 blocks, 39 aces and 784.5 total points. She is a three-time Ivy League Player of the Week and was selected Second Team All-Ivy League in 2016. This season, she leads the Ivy League by large margins in both kills per set (3.97) and points per set (4.49), ranking among the nation’s top 50 in both categories.
Columbia (9-12, 4-8 Ivy) saw its four-match winning streak come to an end last weekend in losses to both Princeton and Penn. The Tigers hit .330 and won a back-and-forth second set, 25-23, on the way to a sweep. Saturday’s match at Penn was much more exciting, as the Lions came back from two sets down to force a fifth set before succumbing to the Quakers. Columbia even trailed, 22-17, in the third set before rallying to score eight of the final nine points and extend the match. Three Lions tied career-highs, as senior Anja Malesevic posted 27 kills, junior Natasha Kosowicz went for 22 digs and sophomore Chichi Ikwuazom registered 11 blocks. For Malesevic, it marked her third time this season reaching 27 kills, a mark which ranks fifth in program history for kills in a single match. Ikwuazom’s 11 blocks marked her fifth career match of 10 or more and were one block shy of the program record.
CLIMBING THE CHARTS
Anja Malesevic enters the weekend ranked No. 41 in the NCAA in points per set (4.49) and No. 47 in kills per set (3.97), both of which lead the Ivy League. The senior has recorded at least 25 kills in four of her last five matches, which includes a 25-kill performance in a victory over Cornell (Oct. 21) and 27-kill efforts against Harvard (Oct. 27), Dartmouth (Oct. 28) and Penn (Nov. 4). Over her last seven matches, the Serbian native has totaled 155 kills (5.00/set), 65 digs (2.10/set), 27 blocks (0.87/set) and 175.5 total points (5.66/set). Against Ivy League competition, Malesevic is averaging a conference-best 4.27 kills and 4.84 points per set.
AN OCTOBER TO REMEMBER
Anja Malesevic was named Columbia’s October Female Student-Athlete of the Month. The senior right side totaled 145 kills, 4.83 kills per set, a .237 hitting percentage, 59 digs, 27 blocks and 165.5 total points through seven matches. She earned two Ivy League Player of the Week selections (Oct. 23, Oct. 30), which included back-to-back 27-kill performances in home victories over Harvard and Dartmouth. It marked the first time a Lion went for 27 kills in a match since Erin Longinotti had the same amount against Dartmouth on Oct. 9, 2009. Malesevic reached double figures in kills in every match during the month, while going for 20 or more on four occasions. She also had two double-doubles and was recognized by VolleyMob.com as a notable performer in its National Player of the Week article.
CHICHI CONTINUES HER DOMINANCE
Sophomore middle Chichi Ikwuazom sits atop the Ivy League in hitting percentage (.380) and blocks per set (1.36) 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), a mark which she also tied in Saturday’s five-set match at Penn (Nov. 4). Ikwuazom had back-to-back 10-kill matches against Harvard (Oct. 27) and Dartmouth (Oct. 28), including a .474 hitting percentage and nine blocks in the victory over the Crimson. The New York native ranks No. 42 nationally in hitting percentage and No. 28 nationally in blocks per set. Across Ivy League play, Ikwuazom leads all competitors with an even more impressive 1.63 blocks per set. Ikwuazom’s 101 total blocks on the year put her six away from cracking the top-five in Columbia’s single-season record book.
ACING THE COMPETITION
Columbia has ranked among the top-10 nationally in aces per set all season long and enters the weekend at No. 8 in the NCAA statistical rankings (1.71). The Lions have gone for 10 or more aces in five matches, including a season-high 13 aces in a 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 30 on the campaign. Wood also ranks No. 89 nationally in aces per set (0.36), 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 (262, 3.97/set*)
Hitting Pct. – Chichi Ikwuazom (.380*)
Total Assists – Audrey Cheng (546, 8.53/set)
Total Digs – Kalie Wood (313, 3.77/set)
Total Aces – Kalie Wood (30, 0.36/set)
Total Blocks – Chichi Ikwuazom (101, 1.36/set*)
Total Points – Anja Malesevic (296.5, 4.49/set*)
* Leads the Ivy League
Week 3 (Sep. 11-17)
- Honor Roll: Chichi Ikwuazom
Week 6 (Oct. 2-8)
- Honor Roll: Audrey Cheng
Brown (7-16, 2-10 Ivy) came together for an inspiring five-set Senior Day victory over Harvard (18-25, 25-20, 12-25, 25-23, 15-13) on Saturday. It put an end to a six-match losing streak and marked the team’s second Ivy League victory of the year, the other coming against Columbia. Brown ranks near the bottom of the Ivy League in most statistical categories, but is No. 2 in aces (1.49/set) and No. 3 in blocks (2.20/set). Jacqueline Jacobs averages 1.21 blocks per set to lead the team and rank No. 2 in the conference behind Chichi Ikwuazom. Melissa Cairo and Shirin Tooloee are among the top-10 in the league in aces per set.
INSIDE THE SERIES
Columbia had defeated Brown in three straight series meetings until the Bears put an end to that streak with a four-set victory on Oct. 7 (19-25, 25-22, 12-25, 14-25). Brown leads the all-time bout 34-17, but the Lions have won 12 of the last 17, including nine straight series matchups from 2009-13. Columbia is 7-1 against Brown in matches played in New York City since 2009.
Yale (15-6, 9-3 Ivy) is playing for the Ivy League title this weekend. The Bulldogs are tied atop the league standings with Princeton (9-3 Ivy), but have lost two of their last three matches. After capping a six-match winning streak with a sweep over Princeton on Oct. 27, Yale fell in five sets to both Penn and Harvard before stopping the slide with a three-set sweep over Dartmouth on Saturday. They hold opponents to a league-low .182 hitting percentage, thanks in part to an average of 2.39 blocks per set, which ranks second in the conference. Yale ranks among the league’s top three in hitting percentage (.229), kills (13.39/set) and assists (12.36/set). Kate Swanson is second in the Ivy League in digs per set with an average of 4.47.
INSIDE THE SERIES
Yale holds a 42-6 lead in the all-time series, but Columbia is 2-2 against the Bulldogs over the last four meetings. The Lions ended a 27-match series losing streak that dated back to 2002 with a five-set victory in 2015. Columbia made it two straight wins over the Bulldogs last season with a five-set victory at Levien Gym. Yale swept this season’s first meeting in New Haven (22-25, 14-25, 29-31).