NEW YORK – In a match that was a battle down to the very last point, the Columbia volleyball team came out on top for the second night in a row, as the Lions beat Harvard Saturday, 3-2 (25-21, 22-25, 25-17, 19-25, 15-13). With the win, Columbia improves to 14-6 overall, and 6-4 in the Ivy League, one of the best seasons in program history. With just five games left, the Lions are guaranteed to have a winning season, the first for the team since 2001. The team’s six Ivy League wins are currently the second highest league win total in program history, and the total of 14 wins is the third highest win total in program history.
Saturday’s win saw Columbia and Harvard going at it point for point from the start. The two teams were tied until at 4-4, a Harvard error gave the Lions an advantage. Up 5-4, Columbia used a kill from junior Cindy Chen and a block by first-year Christina Campbell and sophomore Heather Braunagel to widen the gap, 7-4. From there, the two teams would stay close, but the Lions maintained their lead. It wasn’t until a kill from Gaughn made it 16-11 that Columbia really opened the game up. Columbia went 4-0 on the next four points, to widen it to 20-13. The Crimson rallied back to score eight more times, but the Lions were able to keep their head above water, using Harvard errors to close out the set, taking the win 25-21.
Set two followed a similar pattern, as the two teams were close from the start, but in the second, it was Harvard that took the lead and didn’t give it up. Columbia battled facing set point, but the Crimson were able to pull it out, 25-22, and tie the match up at 1-1.
Harvard took a 1-0 lead in the third set, but a kill by sophomore Megan Gaughn tied it up at 1-1, and a block from first-year Madeline Rumer made it 2-1, and Columbia didn’t relinquish the lead from there on out. Blocks from Colleen Brenan and Rumer, along with Harvard errors, made it 4-1. From there, the two teams battled back and forth, but the early Columbia lead was enough to carry them through the set. A block from Rumer and Erin Longinotti gave the Lions their biggest lead of the set, at 18-11, and a kill from Longinotti made it 20-13. From there, it was just a matter of time, as the Lions took the set, 25-17, regaining control of the match, up 2-1.
But it wouldn’t be that easy for the Lions, as the fourth set went the way of the Crimson. That set saw Columbia go up early, using a kill from Rumer to take a 7-4 lead, but strong blocking by Harvard tied it up at 7. The two teams battled back and forth for the remainder of the game, until tied at 17, Harvard finally took the lead for good. Though Columbia called two timeouts, it wasn’t enough to stop the Crimson momentum, and using strong hitting, Harvard closed it out, 25-19.
For the fifth set, the Lions got the home court crowd into it, and ended it with one of the most exciting sets of the night. Harvard took the early 2-1 lead, but a kill from Heather Braunagel tied it at 2, and a kill from Gaughn, followed by a kill from first-year Katherine Keller made it 4-3 Lions. A solo block from Christina Campbell put the Lions up even more, at 9-4, and Columbia was able to roll with that momentum. Though Harvard would battle back and keep it close, Columbia used a kill from Gaughn to get to match point, and a kill from Cindy Chen won it for Columbia, 15-13 in the fifth, giving the Lions the 3-2 overall win.
Gaughn led the Lions with her 12th double-double of the season, notching 18 kills and 13 digs, along with two assists, a service ace and three blocks. Rumer was once again tops for the Lions as well, as she had 14 kills hitting .321, along with eight digs, two service aces and six blocks, including two solo. First-year setter Colleen Brennan also had a double-double, as she had 40 assists and 12 digs in the win. Other impressive performers for the Lions included Braunagel (seven kills, hitting .429), Chen (six kills, 14 digs), Keller (23 digs) and Megan Dillinger (five kills).
Up next for the Lions is a mid-week non conference matchup, as the Lions will head to Sacred Heart, Tuesday, November 2 at 7 p.m.