Columbia volleyball (5-11, 3-4 Ivy) finished the first half of the season in style as the team picked up its first Ivy sweep of the season against Brown and took a set off defending champion Yale in a 3-1 loss the following night.
The Lions achieved their first 3-0 conference victory of the season against Brown (8-10, 4-3) with set wins of 25-18, 25-17, and 25-20. First-year Zoe Jacobs, who finished with eight kills, sealed the match with three straight kills in the final set.
“I think it was so good for us to win a game in three,” Jacobs said. “We really needed it. We really had a great energy on the court, and every time we would lose the point, we would side-out right away. There was great chemistry tonight.”
The Lions came out strong against Brown, jumping to a 5-1 lead and forcing the Bears to take an early timeout. But Brown was able to come back and tie the game up at 12-12. From there, Columbia stepped up and took the first set comfortably, 25-18. The Light Blue similarly dominated the second and third sets, but there was a moment in the decisive set when Brown mounted a slight comeback before Jacobs sealed the game.
“The last game was a little sketchy and we hit some rough spots. But we fought our way back, which was a good thing to do,” head coach Jon Wilson said. “The blocking got a little better, our serving continued to put pressure on the other team, which was really good. We got some aces and kept them out of system a lot. It kept them out of system. It made our defense better.”
The coverage behind the hitters was strong and allowed the Lions to get second and third opportunities to score points on plays.
“Knowing that your setter has your back, that the libero behind you has your back if you’re going to get blocked, really motivates a hitter—whether it’s me or any other hitter on the team—to put the ball down and keep persevering if we get blocked,” Jacobs said. “That was something we did really well tonight. We’d get blocked, we’d cover it, and we’d go for the kill on the next ball. And that really motivated me at the end of the game.”
Sophomore Bailey Springer continued to pace the Lions offense with a team-leading 10 kills throughout the contest.
The following night, the Lions went down two sets against Yale, 25-21 and 25-12, before mounting a mini-comeback in the third set. The Light Blue took a timeout, down 12-17 in the third, and pulled off a 25-23 win.
“We all decided at the beginning, when we were in the huddle, to just give it every ounce we had and leave the gym knowing we gave it 100 percent, and I think that’s exactly what we did,” first-year setter Jennifer Petrovich said.
The Light Blue struggled with the fast-paced Bulldog offense run by Yale senior Kendall Polan, who has won the Ivy League Player of the Season for two straight years.
“We adapted to the pace of their game. It’s very different from a lot of the other teams in the Ivies,” sophomore Katarina Jovicic said. “Once we got into our own groove, it just flowed from there.”
The Light Blue could not find a way to contain Yale’s offense in the first two sets but showed that it could exert pressure on the Bulldogs to and force them to make errors in the third.
“Honestly, I just had to, based off the pass, decide what I was going to take away. And I knew my defense would take the rest of it,” Jovicic said.
Jovicic finished with a team-high two solo blocks.
Still, Yale kept its 21-game winning streak in the Ivy League alive with a dominating 25-16 fourth-set performance. The Lions fell behind 10-15 and never found a way to recover en route to the loss. Jacobs and Springer paced the Light Blue offense with 12 and 15 kills, respectively.
The Lions next play Cornell at home on Saturday.