NEW YORK — The Columbia volleyball team completes a stretch of five consecutive road matches to start the Ivy League season when it visits Yale and Brown this weekend. The Lions take on Yale on Friday at 7 p.m., followed by Brown on Saturday at 5 p.m.
Fans can watch the Lions all weekend long on the Ivy League Network. Live stats will also be available courtesy of YaleBulldogs.com and BrownBears.com.
The Lions (5-7, 0-3 Ivy) are in search of their first Ivy League victory after beginning the slate with road losses to Cornell, Dartmouth and Harvard. Columbia lost a competitive four-set match in Ithaca back on September 23, but was swept in both matches last weekend by the Big Green and Crimson. Despite the 0-3 start, sophomore Chichi Ikwuazom is hitting .354 and averaging 1.40 blocks per set in Ivy League play, both of which rank among the top-five in the conference. Rookie Jamie Dailey is among the top-10 in Ivy League matches in kills per set (2.80), while fellow first-year Audrey Cheng ranks among the top-10 in assists per set (6.22). Sophomore libero Kalie Wood is seventh in league competition in digs per set (3.20).
ACING THE COMPETITION
Columbia continues to rank No. 3 nationally in aces per set (1.89), which is also the top mark in the Ivy League. The Lions have gone for 10 or more aces in three matches, including a season-high 13 aces on opening weekend against The Citadel (Sept. 2). Sophomore Grace Campbell leads the team with 17 total aces. Campbell leads the Ivy League and ranks No. 18 nationally in aces per set (0.49).
PICKING UP WHERE SHE LEFT OFF
Reigning Ivy League Co-Rookie of the Year and First Team All-Ivy League selection Chichi Ikwuazom ranks No. 30 nationally in hitting percentage (.397), which is also the No. 1 mark in the Ivy League. Last season, as a rookie, Ikwuazom hit .427 to finish the season No. 4 in the NCAA.
Ikwuazom is also No. 3 in the Ivy League and among the top-125 nationally in blocks per set (1.12). The New York native went for a season-high 10 blocks in the Ivy League opener at Cornell, marking her third career 10-block match. Last season, Ikwuazom led the Ivy League with 1.37 blocks per set, including 25 block solos.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN
Columbia plays its first five Ivy League contests on the road. The road trip started with losses at Cornell (Sept. 23), Dartmouth (Sept. 29) and Harvard (Sept. 30). The Lions travel to Yale (Oct. 6) and Brown (Oct. 7) this weekend, before finally returning home to play Penn (Oct. 13) and defending league champion Princeton (Oct. 14). Columbia also played its first five league matches away from home in 2015, going 2-3 through the first five contests with victories over Cornell and Penn.
Total Kills – Luciana Del Valle (104, 2.48/set)
Hitting Pct. – Chichi Ikwuazom (.397)
Assists – Grace Campbell (246, 7.03/set)
Digs – Kalie Wood (162, 3.60/set)
Aces – Grace Campbell (17, 0.49/set)
Total Blocks – Chichi Ikwuazom (48, 1.12/set)
Total Points – Chichi Ikwuazom (130.5, 3.03/set)
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
INSIDE THE SERIES
Yale holds a 41-6 lead in the all-time series, but Columbia has won two of the last three matchups. 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, but fell in four sets the last time the two teams stepped on the court together on October 29, 2016, in New Haven. Columbia will be trying to defeat Yale in New Haven for the first time since 2001, having lost there in 15 consecutive seasons.
Columbia has defeated Brown in three straight series meetings, winning all nine sets contested along the way. Columbia won in Providence for the first time since 2012 when they swept the Bears (25-18, 26-24, 25-19) last October. Brown leads the all-time bout 33-17, but the Lions have won 12 of the last 16, including nine straight series matchups from 2009-13.
Yale (8-4, 2-1 Ivy) began the Ivy League season with back-to-back wins over Brown and Penn, but was dealt its first loss last Saturday by defending champion Princeton in four sets. The Bulldogs started the 2017 campaign 4-0 with wins over Delaware, Rhode Island, Clemson and UC Santa Barbara, and strung four more wins together later in September against Ohio, Wake Forest, Brown and Penn. Yale ranks third in the Ivy League in assists per set (12.08), blocks per set (2.28), hitting percentage (.228), kills per set (13.08) and opponent hitting percentage (.195). Sophomore middle Izzy Simqi is hitting .350 to rank fifth in the Ivy League and is also among league leaders in blocks per set (1.03). Junior outside Kelley Wirth heads the attack with 3.50 kills per set, ranking second in the Ivy League behind Princeton’s Natasha Skov.
Brown (5-9, 0-3 Ivy) and Columbia are the only two teams in the Ivy League still in search of their first conference victory. The Bears came close last Saturday, forcing a fifth set against Penn but ultimately falling (11-25, 25-15, 22-25, 25-21, 6-15). Three Bears reached double figures in the kill column against Penn, including a match-high 15 kills to go with 11 digs for senior Shirin Tooloee. The Bears rank second in the Ivy League in aces per set (1.33) and blocks per set (2.29), led by Tooloee’s 0.35 aces per set and Jacqueline Jacobs’ 1.15 blocks per set. Brown started the season 3-0 with wins over FDU, Manhattan and Holy Cross, but dropped five straight non-conference decisions from Sept. 9-16. The Bears have lost eight of their last nine overall.