NEW YORK — The Columbia volleyball team opens the 2017 Ivy League season on the road this Saturday against Cornell. The match will take place at Newman Arena in Ithaca at 2 p.m.
Fans can watch the Lions Saturday afternoon on the Ivy League Network. All 14 of Columbia’s Ivy League contests this season will air on the ILN. Live stats will also be available for Saturday courtesy of CornellBigRed.com.
The Lions posted a 5-4 record through the non-conference portion of the schedule, including 2-1 weekends at the Art Carmichael Invitational (Sept. 8-9) and the Big Apple Battle (Sept. 16-17). Columbia won three straight matches between the two tournaments, downing Rhode Island in four sets to close out the Art Carmichael Invitational before winning their first two matches of the Big Apple Battle against Fordham and St. Francis Brooklyn. The Lions traveled to LIU Brooklyn to determine the winner of the Big Apple Battle this past Sunday, but fell in a tight five-set match (19-25, 25-15, 25-23, 24-26, 13-15).
BUILDING OFF SUCCESS
Columbia is coming off of a 9-5 Ivy League mark in 2016, finishing third in the league standings and tying for the best Ivy League record in program history. It included the program’s first 3-0 Ivy League start, defeating Cornell, Yale and Brown in succession at Levien Gymnasium. The Lions went 6-1 at home last season against Ivy League opponents, losing only to eventual league champion Princeton.
IVY LEAGUE OPENERS
Columbia is 7-1 in its last eight Ivy League openers. Each of Columbia’s last 17 Ivy League openers have come against Cornell – the last time the Lions opened against a different team was 1999 against Dartmouth. Last season, Columbia came back from two sets down to defeat the Big Red and begin the league season 1-0 (14-25, 22-25, 27-25, 25-21, 15-9). The last time the Lions began the league slate at Cornell was 2015, defeating the Big Red in four sets (21-25, 26-24, 25-20, 25-23).
ACING THE COMPETITION
Columbia ranks No. 3 nationally and sits atop the Ivy League in aces per set (2.09). The Lions have gone for 10 or more aces in three matches, including 12 aces in last weekend’s four-set victory over St. Francis Brooklyn. Sophomore Grace Campbell leads the team with 16 total, ranking No. 7 nationally and atop the Ivy League with an average of 0.59 aces per set. First-year Kaitlin Schultz also qualifies among the top-150 in the national rankings with an average of 0.37 aces per set.
PICKING UP WHERE SHE LEFT OFF
Reigning Ivy League Co-Rookie of the Year and First Team All-Ivy League selection Chichi Ikwuazom ranks No. 27 nationally and No. 2 in the Ivy League in hitting percentage at .411. Last season, as a rookie, Ikwuazom hit .427 to finish the season No. 4 in the NCAA. Ikwuazom was named to the Ivy League Weekly Honor Roll for the first time for her performance in the Big Apple Battle. The New York native hit. .431 across three matches with 36 kills and 18 total blocks.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN
Columbia plays its first five Ivy League contests on the road. Following Saturday’s contest in Ithaca, the Lions will spend next weekend at Dartmouth (Sep. 29) and Harvard (Sep. 30). The following weekend, Columbia travels to Yale (Oct. 6) and Brown (Oct. 7), before finally returning home to play Penn (Oct. 13) and defending league champion Princeton (Oct. 14). Columbia also played its first five league matches away from home in 2015, going 2-3 through the first five contests with victories over Cornell and Penn.
INSIDE THE SERIES
Cornell holds a large 51-13 lead in the all-time series, but Columbia has had the upper-hand by winning nine of the last 16 since 2009. The Lions won a series-best four straight meetings by sweeping the season series in both 2011 and 2012. These two teams will open the Ivy League schedule against one another for the 18th consecutive season, with Columbia having won seven of the last eight conference openers against the Big Red since 2009.
Total Kills – Luciana Del Valle (87, 2.64/set)
Hitting Pct. – Chichi Ikwuazom (.411)
Assists – Grace Campbell (222, 8.22/set)
Digs – Kalie Wood (130, 3.71/set)
Aces – Grace Campbell (16, 0.59/set)
Total Blocks – Chichi Ikwuazom (34, 1.03/set)
Total Points – Chichi Ikwuazom (100.0, 3.03/set)
Week 3 (Sep. 11-17)
- Honor Roll: Chichi Ikwuazom
Cornell went 6-8 in the 2016 Ivy League season to finish fifth in the league standings. It marked the Big Red’s best finish since the 2008 team placed third. Cornell comes into this year’s Ivy League season after going 4-5 in the non-conference slate. Last weekend, the Big Red went 1-2 at the Colgate Invitational, beginning the tournament with a five-set victory over La Salle before falling to Stony Brook and Colgate. Senior libero Kiley McPeek enters Saturday ranked No. 23 nationally in digs per set (5.42) and No. 24 in aces per set (0.52). McPeek, the Ivy League digs leader, has Cornell atop the league with a team average of 17.94 per set, which also ranked No. 11 in the NCAA. Cornell also does a good job generating its attack with a No. 2 national ranking in team attacks per set (42.15).