Volleyball Set to Take on Brown, Yale This Weekend
Courtesy: Columbia University Athletics

NEW YORK – The Columbia volleyball team is on the road for the third weekend in a row, as the Lions will head to Providence, R.I. and New Haven, Conn., to take on two tough Ivy League opponents in Brown and Yale. The Lions will take on the Bears, Friday, October 15 at 7 p.m., before facing off against the Bulldogs, Saturday, October 16 at 6 p.m.

Last Time Out
Columbia is looking to duplicate the second half of their last two games. On Friday, the Lions went up 2-0 on Harvard before falling to the Crimson, but on Saturday, Columbia volleyball played one of its best games of the year, beating Dartmouth, 3-1. It was only the third loss of the Big Green’s entire season, and the first in the Ivy League.

Scouting the Bears
Brown is currently 6-10 overall, and a winless 0-4 in the Ivy League. The Bears have notched a 3-3 record at home, and will be looking to push that record over .500 against the Lions Friday.

Emma Pastore and Katrina Post lead the Bears on offense, as they have 146 and 130  kills respectively, while setter Alexandra Rieckhoff has 554 assists so far this year. The Bears are a strong service team, as they lead the league in service aces with 88 as a group. And Annika Gliottone leads her team and the Ivy League with 20 service aces so far this year.

Scouting the Bulldogs
A perennially strong Ivy League squad, a young Yale team has struggled out of the gate, going 8-7 overall and 2-2 in the league. The Bulldogs suffered 3-1 loss to both Princeton and Penn last weekend, after sweeping Brown in the first week of play.

The Columbia-Yale matchup will be a battle for sure, as Yale has one of the strongest offenses in the Ivy League, while the Lions are one of the top defenses. Yale is the only team ahead of Columbia in the hitting percentage category, as the Bulldogs have a total attack percentage of .239, to Columbia’s .236.  Yale also leads the league in kills, with a 14.42 kills per set average.

The Bulldog’s offense is controlled by first-year Kendall Polan, a setter making waves league-wide. A two-time Ivy League Rookie of the Week, she has 515 assists this season, including a 9.72 assists per set average, and nine service aces. She’s helped four different Yale hitters notch 100+ kills this season, including Bridget Hearst (187), Erica Reetz (156), Haley Wessels (133) and Katie Cordell (110).  Polan is also clutch on defense, as she is third on the team in digs, with 161. Yale’s defense revolves around Kelly Ozurovich, who has 302 digs this year, but the Bulldogs also get help from Cordell (215 digs) and Reetz (154).

Leading the Lions
While Yale has a slight advantage on offense this weekend, Columbia has the clear edge when it comes to defense. The Lions lead the league in opponent hitting percentage, holding other teams to just a .133 hitting percentage. They also lead the league in blocks, with a 2.43 blocks per set average, and 129 total blocks. The team’s 40 solo blocks are far and away the most in the league.

First-year Savannah Fletcher is one of the lynchpins of the Columbia defense, as she leads both the team and in the Ivy League in blocks, with a 1.26 blocks per set average, including 10 solo blocks and 33 block assists.

Columbia has also been strong on offense this season, and that offense is only gaining steam. Sophomore Heather Braunagel and junior Monique Roberts are the two best hitters in league play, as they have .410 and .385 hitting percentages against league opponents. Junior Megan Gaughn is also a league-leader, as she leads the league in kills in conference games, with a 4.61 kills per set average.

Up Next 
The Columbia volleyball team finally returns home after a long stretch on the road, for the aptly titled Homecoming weekend. The Lions will host the two top teams in the Ivy League, facing off against Princeton, Friday, October 22 at 4 p.m., and defending champions Penn, Saturday, October 23 at 7 p.m.