NEW YORK - The Columbia volleyball team returns to the Big Apple to kick off the 2012 home season as the Lions host the Columbia Invitational at Levien Gymnasium this weekend on Friday, September 14 and Saturday, September 15. The five-match tournament will include Colgate, Hofstra and Rhode Island.

Columbia (2-4) will be playing its third straight tournament of the season, as the Lions took part in the University of Central Florida tournament to open 2012, followed by an appearance in the Delaware Invitational last week.

Caitlin Brenton leads the Lions with 41 kills on the season, while senior Megan Gaughn follows closely behind with 37. Leading the way in hitting percentage is Heather Braunagel, who has recorded 25 kills while committing just one error for an impressive .453 hitting percentage.

On the defensive end, sophomore Molly Winger leads the Lions with 75 digs. In last weekend's matchup against Texas A&M, which received votes in last week's AVCA poll, Winger recorded a match-high 22 digs and was named to the Delaware Invitational All-Tournament team in addition to earning a spot on the Ivy League Honor Roll. Savannah Fletcher has a team-high 20 blocks on the year, while Braungel is right behind her with 19 blocks.

The Lions are 1-6 all-time against Colgate (1-8). The Raiders are coming off their only win of the season after a 3-0 victory over Siena last weekend.

Hofstra (9-5) owns a 5-0 all-time record over the Lions. The Pride have lost their last three contests this season, most recently in a 3-1 defeat to LIU Brooklyn Tuesday night.

Rhode Island (4-5) and Columbia have split the only two meetings between the teams. Most recently, Columbia defeated the Rams 3-2 in the URI Tournament a season ago.

The two-day tournament is slated to begin on Friday with a 4 p.m. contest between Hofstra and Rhode Island.

Experience Trivia Night later that evening at 7 p.m. when Columbia Volleyball starts its much-anticipated 2012 home season vs. Colgate. Fans should arrive early to register for team trivia and a chance to win Columbia Volleyball apparel.

Students who sign-in with their Residential Advisor in Levien Lobby before the match will receive free pizza. The first 200 fans will receive a schedule cup, and two lucky fans will win an iPod. Remember, ADMISSION IS FREE!

Columbia will then face Rhode Island on Saturday morning at 11 a.m., followed by a 7 p.m. match against Hofstra to close out the tournament.

The full tournament schedule including links to live stats and live video broadcasts is listed below.

Tournament Schedule

Friday, September 14

4 p.m. - Hofstra vs. Rhode Island  Live Stats       
7 p.m. - Columbia vs. Colgate  Live Stats / Live Video

Saturday, September 15

11 a.m. - Columbia vs. Rhode Island  Live Stats / Live Video
1:30 p.m. - Colgate vs. Hofstra  Live Stats  
4:30 p.m. - Rhode Island vs. Colgate  Live Stats
7 p.m. - Columbia vs. Hofstra  Live Stats / Live Video