New York City - A determined Columbia squad won a momentum-shifting third set over the Penn volleyball team on Friday night and cruised from there to claim a 25-21, 18-25, 28-26, 25-16 win over the Quakers inside Levien Gym. Dani Shepherd had 36 digs on the night while Alex Caldwell logged 11 kills, 26 assists and 15 digs for her sixth triple-double of the season.
The first set started off with a kill from Lauren Martin but that would prove to be Penn's only lead of the set. Columbia scored four in a row before Martin stopped the Lions with her second kill, but the home team's advantage stretched to as much as seven points in the middle stages of the set. Shepherd had 13 digs in the first stanza alone, but couldn't keep Columbia's Megan Gaughn from recording seven kills, a theme that would repeat itself throughout the night.
The Quakers bounced back in the second set with Martin, Caldwell, Kristen Etterbeek and Susan Stuecheli all recording three kills each. The score was tied on 12 separate occasions in the set, the last coming at 16-16. From there, Penn took over, going on a 9-2 run to end it and tie the match at a set each. Columbia tried to stop the Quakers from running away with it, but Martin and Stuecheli each had two kills in the late going and Stuecheli added a solo block to knot it up.
The third set was the back-breaker for Penn. Etterbeek had six kills and Emma White added five in the set, but the Quakers couldn't find an answer for Gaughn, who had 10 kills in the third set. The lead oscillated back and forth throughout the third set, with neither team leading by more than four at any point. Recovering quickly from a 19-15 deficit, Penn tied the match at 21-21 and actually had a set point after Caldwell and Amanda Pacheco combined on a block to give the Red and Blue the lead at 26-25. Unfortunately the team couldn't close it out, allowing three straight from Columbia to fall into a 2-1 hole.
The teams traded side-outs in the early going of the fourth set, but three straight from the Lions put them ahead by a score of 6-3 and they wouldn't trail again. Penn's last gasp may have occurred after a Gaughn attack error pulled them to within 18-14, but five straight from Columbia sealed the deal. One of six kills from Caitlin Brenton in the fourth set ended the match with a 25-16 Lions victory.
White led the Quakers with 13 kills, while Caldwell, Etterbeek and Martin all added 11. Ronnie Bither matched Caldwell with 26 assists. Shepherd added four service aces to her 36 digs on the night.
With one game remaining on the 2012 slate, Penn and Columbia slide into a third place tie in the Ivy League standings. Princeton was upset by Cornell on Friday night to fall to 9-4 in the league, keeping second place in reach of both the Quakers and Lions. Columbia will wrap up play against the Tigers while Penn will take on the Big Red on Saturday in matches beginning at 5 p.m.
Download: Penn-Columbia Box Score.pdf