With a little bit of help from its upstate neighbor Cornell, Columbia volleyball (14-9, 9-5 Ivy) finished the season tied for second place with Princeton, the highest finish in program history, and senior Megan Gaughn concluded her stellar Light Blue career by breaking another Columbia record.
The weekend home sweep over Penn and Princeton extended the Lions’ winning streak to five matches and capped an impressive 6-1 performance in the second half of the conference schedule.
Gaughn led the way against Penn on Friday, as she recorded 24 kills en route to becoming the all-time kill leader in Lions volleyball history.
Columbia took the first set, but dropped the second set as the Quakers pulled away after being tied 16-16. At 15-13 in the third set, the audience was on its feet as Gaughn neared the record. On the next play, Gaughn saw a hole in the defense and her tip hit the ground to make her the new kill record holder.
The Light Blue pulled off the crucial third-set victory, 28-26, to take the momentum as they went up two sets to one against the Quakers.
“I think we were determined,” freshman Atlanta Moye-McLaren said. “I think we were on the loose for a little bit. I don’t know exactly what moment, but it clicked.”
The Lions clinched the victory with a comfortable fourth-set win, after going up 12-5 early in the set.
“We’re on a big win streak and our confidence is through the roof,” Gaughn said after beating Penn. “I know the seniors want to go out on a win, and I think our freshmen want to send us out the right way too.”
The Lions then played for a share of second place against Princeton on Senior Night, after Cornell had beaten the Tigers the previous night. Seniors Heather Braunagel, Kelsey Musselman, and Gaughn were honored in a pre-match ceremony.
Princeton came out strong, taking the first four points, but the Lions fought back, winning the first set through Braunagel’s kill from the middle. Freshman Sarah Collins sealed the win with a service ace in the fourth set, as the Light Blue moved up to second in the Ivy League with the 3-1 win. The players rushed the court to congratulate the seniors and celebrate their historic finish.
Gaughn finished the night with 20 kills and 12 digs, while Braunagel recorded 12 kills.
Sophomore Caitlin Brenton also had a strong net presence, notching 11 kills and six blocks.
“In our small world of Columbia volleyball, we see a lot of time and effort put in. They responded,” head coach Jon Wilson said of his players. “They respected themselves. They respected the game. They’re competitors. They never gave up even when they were mathematically eliminated from the championships. They picked up and got better and better.”