Despite only picking up one win at the Columbia Invitational, Columbia volleyball (1-5) showed its resilience and willingness to compete by pushing games to five sets in close losses to Boston College and Binghamton.
Columbia opened the tournament on Friday night against Boston College in front of a rowdy Levien Gymnasium. The Lions came out strong, with freshman Jennifer Petrovich serving an ace to spark a 4-0 start in the first set. However, the Eagles fought back, and soon found themselves up two sets to none.
With their backs to the wall, the Lions used a strong counter attack to get out to an 8-1 lead in the third set. Boston College outside hitter Katty Workman, who finished the match with 32 kills, helped the Eagles close the deficit, but the Lions held on for a 25-22 win.
In the fourth set, the Lions found themselves behind 12-16, and they turned to the experience of the upperclassmen for some inspiration.
“Especially that fourth game, when we were down and we called timeout, I could see that the underclassmen were a little nervous and I brought them together,” junior Molly Winger said. “We’re so mature already, and we turned it around real quick.”
Kills from sophomores Bailey Springer and Atlanta Moye-Mclaren sparked the comeback, and the Lions earned themselves a fifth set with a 25-23 win. But that’s where the rally would end, as the Light Blue dropped the final frame 15-11.
Despite losing the fifth set, the team felt there were a lot of positives to take away from the match.
“In the fifth game, we kind of dropped off again, but our fifth set looked a lot better than our fifth set against Belmont” last week at the Wildcat Challenge at Northwestern, Winger said. “I think we played a lot better than last weekend. We’re gelling a lot more as a team. Our offense and defense are running better. We keep improving. That’s a good trajectory.”
After the loss, the Lions regrouped for the second day of the tournament, and got their first win of the nonconference season over Fordham, 3-1.
Petrovich continued her strong play, running the offense effectively and also contributing a few points of her own.
“When I was told to be on the court for a 5-1, I just told myself to just do my job and not worry about anything else,” Petrovich said. “I try to serve my teammates the best I can, and I try to do that every time I step on the court.”
Springer was part of a balanced attack force, contributing seven kills. Moye-McLaren stood out with 17 kills and freshman opposite hitter Zoe Jacobs also had a breakout night with 13 kills.
“It’s really nice to finally get a real win. We needed it for our confidence, especially since we have such a young team,” Springer said. “It’s nice to get that first win in the books and over with.”
Another aspect of the Lions’ play that stood out in the win was their defense.
“We’ve been working on our blocking a lot in practice,” Springer said. “A big thing for us, in years past, is that there’s been a big disconnect between the block and the back row defense. So the fact that we have the block and the back row defense working together shows how much more the team is working together now.”
In the final game of the tournament, the Lions found themselves in a similar position, down 0-2 against Binghamton. The Lions once again found a way to come back, evening the score at two sets apiece. But the Lions got down 0-6 to begin the tiebreaking set, and eventually lost 15-8.
Springer recorded a match-high 25 kills in the match against Binghamton, and Petrovich also stood out with 49 assists and five kills.
Columbia next travels to the University of Virginia Tournament in Charlottesville, Va., on Friday.