|Kills||Denise Ssozi (17)||Luciana Del Valle (14)|
|Assists||Shanleigh Conlan (44)||Grace Campbell (31)|
|Aces||Denise Ssozi (4)||Kalie Wood (4)|
|Digs||Sarah Hellman (15)||Kalie Wood (18)|
|Blocks||Piper Heineck (6)||Four tied with 3|
WASHINGTON — The Columbia volleyball team earned a five-set victory over Air Force (25-23, 12-25, 18-25, 26-24, 15-5) in its season opener on Friday at the Service Academy Challenge. The two-day tournament is being hosted by the Falcons in the nation’s capital.
Columbia (1-0) trailed 2-1 before winning the fourth and fifth sets to close out the match. The Lions faced two match points down 24-22 in the fourth, but took the final four points of the set to force a fifth. The run began with a kill by junior Natasha Kosowicz and included an ace by first-year Jamie Dailey. Junior Luciana Del Valle won the set with one of her team-high 14 kills.
The fifth was all Columbia. The Lions never trailed and used a 6-0 run to gain a 9-2 advantage. The Lions hit .364 in the final frame, clinching the match on an ace by sophomore Grace Campbell.
Columbia outhit Air Force .240 to .223 on the afternoon, committing seven fewer errors on four additional attacks. Del Valle’s 14 kills came at a .324 clip, while sophomore Chichi Ikwuazom hit .500 with 11 kills. Ikwuazom, the reigning Ivy League Co-Rookie of the Year, hit .427 as a first-year to finish the season ranked No. 4 in the NCAA.
Sophomore Kalie Wood tallied career-highs in digs (18) and aces (4), leading all players in the match in both categories. Campbell set the offense with 31 assists on the team’s 48 kills.
The Lions play two matches on Saturday, closing out the season-opening tournament against Georgetown (10:30 a.m.) and The Citadel (3:30 p.m.).