Julia Nagel/Sun Assistant Photography Editor

Cornell quickly got out to a two set lead, but Columbia bounced back and forced a fifth set.

October 26, 2021

Volleyball Bests Columbia in Five-Set Thriller

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On Saturday afternoon volleyball battled it out in five close sets against Columbia, eventually winning the match 3-2 (25-23, 25-18, 22-25, 22-25, 15-10). A few key players impressed with career performances and led the Red to victory for its second Ivy League win of the season. 

The Red quickly jumped out to a commanding two set lead after defeating the Lions (5-13, 2-6 Ivy) 25-23 and 25-18. These first two sets were closely fought, with both teams staying neck and neck until the very last point.

In the first set, the Lions were able to pull ahead late with a 21-17 lead, but Cornell stormed back, scoring five consecutive points to retake the lead. The defense also held the Lions to only two more points, allowing the team to come back and win the set.

In the second set, the Red was able to pull away early after scoring three consecutive points to give themselves a 10-6 lead. The team never looked back, as they maintained a slight but comfortable lead until the very end, ultimately winning the set 25-18.

With only one more set needed, the Red was in position to defeat the Lions swiftly. However, Columbia did not go down without a fight. The Lions went on to win the next two sets, both with a final score of 25-22. The two teams were tied seven times throughout the third set, but a few key kills by Lions down the stretch solidified the win for them. 

Much like the third set, the fourth set was closely fought, with the score being tied six times. At one point, the Red was down 12-17. Cornell battled back, scoring five consecutive points by forcing crucial errors on the Lions and generating a service ace by freshman Megal Bickel to re-tie the score at 18 a-piece. Down the stretch, the two teams were tied again at 21-21, however, the Lions were able to pull away with a couple kills, a Cornell error, and a service ace to force a fifth set.

In the winner-take-all fifth set, an offensive spurt by the Red propelled it to victory. Cornell tallied nine kills compared to the Lions’ six. The teams’ veterans, including seniors Jillienne Bennett, Madison Baptiste, Casey Justus and junior Joanna Chang combined for eight of the nine kills. With a final score of 15-10, the team’s determination along with gritty individual performances allowed them to come away with a big win.

Despite five closely fought sets, Cornell out matched Columbia in many areas of their game. The Red recorded 63 kills, 60 assists, and 78 digs compared to the Lions’ 52 kills, 47 assists, and 76 digs.

Many players also had career performances that significantly impacted the outcome of the game. In particular, Baptiste recorded a season-best and match-high 21 kills, in addition to 18 digs. The majority of her kills were assisted by her sister, sophomore Rylee Baptiste who tallied a career-high and match-high 51 assists. Additionally, Justus and Chang also notched double digit kills — 17 and 10, respectively. Freshman libero Jackie Baker also impressed with a career-high of 20 digs. 

Cornell (6-10, 2-6 Ivy) will continue their five game home stand this weekend at Bartels Hall. The Red will face off against two tough opponents in Yale (12-5, 5-3 Ivy) on Friday and Brown (14-4, 7-1 Ivy) on Saturday.