Best of 2010: Volleyball Downs Previously Undefeated Princeton
Courtesy: Columbia University Athletics/Gene Boyars

During the final weeks of 2010, will highlight some of the best moments of 2010, highlighting the outstanding accomplishments of our student-athletes, coaches and teams in random order.

October 22, 2010

The Columbia volleyball team notched one of its biggest wins of the season on a warm October evening in New York City. The Lions hosted Princeton, who were sitting pretty at the top of the Ivy League, a perfect 5-0 in the Ancient Eight at that point in the season. But they hadn't faced the Lions yet, and with a record crowd of over 500 fans in Levien Gymnasium, Columbia would upset the Tigers in a come-from-behind win, 3-2, handing Princeton its first Ivy League loss of the year.

Columbia came out roaring in the first set, before going down 2-1, and rallying back to win two straight sets and take the match from Princeton, 25-15, 20-25, 25-23, 21-25, 17-15.

Set five would prove to be the most charged of the night, as both the home crowd and the team were energized by the team’s fourth set comeback. With over 400 fans on their feet for the duration of the stanza, Columbia did not give up. The Lions stayed close to Princeton, though they were down for most of the set. It wasn’t until they were down 12-9, facing elimination in just three points that the Lions came alive. Back-to-back kills from Monique Roberts were the spark, and it was a kill by Cindy Chen and a service ace by Megan Gaughn that tied it up, 12-12. Gaughn also gave Columbia the first lead of the set with a kill on a pass from Colleen Brennan, and a block by Megan Dillinger and Roberts put the Lions up 14-12 Princeton was able to tie it up at 14, and take the lead 15-14. Facing match point, Columbia got a huge kill from Gaughn, tying it up at 15 once again, and keeping the Lions in the game. A kill by Heather Braunagel gave Columbia match point, and with first-year Katherine Keller serving, junior Chen ended it with a kill, allowing the Lions to rush the court in front of one of the biggest crowds in program history, to celebrate a 17-15 fifth set win, and a 3-2 overall victory.

Columbia had one of its best team-wide efforts of the season, and possibly in the history of Lion volleyball. Gaughn led the Lions overall, as she had her ninth double-double of the year, with 16 kills and 16 digs along with a career high six service aces in the match. Chen had one of the best games of her career, notching 10 crucial kills including the match winner, and a career-high 28 digs on defense. Madeline Rumer had 12 kills and three blocks, while Roberts provided an essential spark for the Columbia offense, playing the last two sets and notching 16 kills and two blocks. First-year Brennan also had a double-double, with 42 assists and 12 digs, while Keller was outstanding on defense with a team-high 32 digs. Sophomore Braunagel was also a force on offense, with nine kills.