For years, the Princeton-Juniata match had major implications on the EIVA Tait Division race. As recently as 2007, the two programs met to compete for a semifinal berth in the EIVA postseason. That turned into a five-set thriller, with Peter Eichler guiding the Tigers to Penn State with 18 kills in a 3-2 win.
This year is a little different. There is no Tait Division, and Juniata is not part of the EIVA any longer. But while Saturday night's men's volleyball match against the Eagles (7 p.m.) may not directly impact the standings, it certainly could play a big part for the second half of the Tiger season.
Princeton is coming off its Spring Break week, and it will now look for a fresh start to the second half of its season. The Tigers had their share of ups and downs in the first half of the season; winning four of five matches in late February moved Princeton into second place in the league, but a three-match losing streak followed and has left Princeton in a battle for one of the four postseason bids.
The Tigers are currently 5-5 in EIVA play, which left them in fifth as of Friday afternoon. If NJIT gets swept this weekend at home (the Highlanders host both Penn State and Saint Francis), Princeton would end the weekend in fourth position. More importantly for the Tigers is getting back to their winning ways, and a victory over Juniata (19-7) would be a big step in that direction.
Princeton has several statistical leaders in the EIVA this season, including freshman Cody Kessel, who ranks third in both kills per set (3.67) and points per set (4.3). Junior Michael Dye, who has played both middle and opposite this season, ranks fourth in the league with a .321 attack percentage, while freshman Will Siroky is fifth in the league with .98 blocks per set. Senior captain Scott Liljestrom is fourth in the league with 9.59 assists per set.