NEW YORK — Columbia Volleyball battled valiantly against Ivy League-leading Princeton on Friday night at Levien Gymnasium. The Lions lost a tight back-and-forth in the first set and couldn’t recover, ultimately being eliminated 3-0 (25-22, 25-14, 25-14).
Junior middle Aidan Conner continued her recent string of blocking performances. The junior reached an eight total that night to help the Lions (5-17, 2-11 Ivy) amass a total of 15 blocks. It was Conner’s third straight match with eight rejections or more, giving her 63 that year and her fourth-place Ivy League blocks per game (1.17).
“We’ve worked incredibly hard at our gym on our culture and how we support each other Patrick Santiago said. “We haven’t really made any changes, but we’ve started to understand our system. Our block has caught fire the last three or four games. It was really fun to watch.
“I’m really impressed with Princeton. They’re obviously at the top of the Ivy League… They put in an incredible defensive effort to keep us at a low offense percentage. Kudos to them because I don’t think they expected to block as much as they did and they didn’t let that bother them.”
Noelle Foster led Columbia by 8.5 points that night and had five kills remaining with four blocks total. Saj McBurrows and Kiara Robichaud had four kills a piece. On the floor, senior Vanessa Pan 13 total digs and their 19th game in double figures of the season.
A spirited crowd at Pride Night helped convince the Lions with an entertaining first set. After the 2:6 the Lions went back and had the Tigers on the ropes. A 4-1 sprint put the Lions 12-11 ahead before a 7-2 run sparked by Robichaud, McBurrows and Conner gave the crowd a 19-15 lead.
Things quickly turned in Princeton’s favor, scoring four straight goals and ending an 8-1 run back in front, 23-20. Melina Mahood’s third and final kill of the set ended it 25-22. Mahood went on to rack up a total of 16 match-high kills.
Despite the Tigers taking a 10-1 lead in the second round, Columbia dug in and rallied to get back to five on two separate occasions. Four straight points and three Conner blocks on a 5-1 run took the score 14-9. The Tigers scored the next three goals and didn’t look back, winning the second 25-14 to take a two-set lead to go.
Columbia led early in the third before an 8-1 run at Princeton gave the visitors an 11-6 lead. Mahood was the catalyst the rest of the way, grabbing nine kills in the final frame to take her team 12-1 in the Ivy League.
The Lions wrap up the season on Saturday when they host Penn at 5 p.m. The Lions celebrate Senior Night honoring the careers of Saj McBurrows, Vanessa Pan, Pierce Woodall, Noelle Foster, Kiara Robichaud and McKenzy Metter.
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