NEW YORK - Columbia volleyball fell to Yale in a tough match on Dig Pink Night Friday, as the Bulldogs won 3-1 (25-23, 25-19, 25-13) in front of a crowd of over 600 supporters.
The match was Columbia’s Dig Pink Night, in conjunction with the Side-Out Foundation. Fans were encouraged to wear pink, 100 fans got Dig Pink shirts, and donations were collected at the door, with all proceeds going to the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at the Columbia University Medical Center. The Columbia community turned out in full force to support the cause and the volleyball team, as they took on Ivy League-leading Yale.
Right from the start, the match was a battle. Yale went up 2-0 on a kill and a service ace, and it took Columbia some time to rally back. But back-to-back kills from first-year Caitlin Brenton tied it up at 3, and from there, the two teams would stay locked together. Yale took an 8-5 lead, but the Lions were able rally back. This time, it was back-to-back kills from junior Megan Gaughn that would tie the match at 8-8. Yale would take the lead again, 18-15, and stayed ahead for a big, but this time when the Lions rallied back, it was for keeps. Gaughn sparked the run with back-to-back kills, tying it up at 20. From there, a Yale error, followed by a kill from Heather Braunagel put Columbia up 23-21. Columbia capitalized on an attack error to make it 24-21, and facing set point, Yale rallied to score twice more. But a kill from Brenton ended it, and Columbia had a 25-23 win in the first set to go up 1-0 on the Bulldogs.
The second set saw Columbia come out on a tear, taking a 9-5 lead over Yale before the Bulldogs knew what was happening. Columbia increased the lead to 12-9 with a kill from Brenton, but then Yale’s attack started to connect, and the Bulldogs rallied back to tie it at 12. From there, Yale notched five straight kills to take a 17-13 lead over the Lions. The momentum shifted firmly in the favor of the Bulldogs, and though Columbia would rally to score six more points with kills from Gaughn, Savannah Fletcher and Monique Roberts, it would not be enough. Yale score twice in row to end it, 25-19, tying the overall match up at 1-1.
The break between the second and third sets is normally where the Lions find their rhythm, coming out strong in the third. But Friday, it was Yale that found its grove in that break. The Bulldogs came out on a tear, going up 5-1 on the Lions and never looking back. Yale controlled the offense, hitting .438 as a team that set, and Columbia struggled against strong hitting to get the offense going,. Yale’s largest lead of the night came as they were up 20-10. The Lions didn’t back down, but the Bulldogs had built too much of a lead, and took the 2-1 overall lead on a 25-13 win in the third.
Set four proved to be one of the most exciting of the night, as both teams staged rallies to take the lead. Yale had the early advantage, riding the momentum from the third set to go up 9-3 on the Lions. But Braunagel landed back-to-back kills to close the lead to 9-5, and Columbia was back in the game. Though the Lions wouldn’t tie it up for a bit, a kill from Roberts brought it closer, 10-9, putting Columbia within striking distance. The Lions continued to chip away at the lead, eventually tying the match up at 14, and taking a 15-14 lead with a block from Brenton and Roberts. From there, the two teams again stayed close. Braunagel notched two kills in a row to help push Columbia over the edge, going up 19-17, and the Lions were on fire. Columbia led, and the Lions were just two points from forcing a fifth set, 23-21. But Yale used two kills to tie it up at 23, and the two Columbia errors ended it, giving Yale the 25-23 win, with the Bulldogs taking the match, 3-1.
Megan Gaughn led the Lions with 17 kills, hitting .269 along with 13 digs. Junior Heather Braunagel had 11 kills, hitting .360, while sophomore Colleen Brennan had 46 assists and 12 digs. Sophomore Charlee Dyroff and first-year Molly Winger led the defense with 17 and 12 digs respectively. First-year Caitlin Brenton had 10 kills at the net and a team-high three blocks.
Columbia is now 12-7 overall and 6-3 in the Ivy League. Up next for the Lions is Brown, Saturday, October 29 at 5 p.m., in Levien Gymnasium.