Looking for its best league record in 15 years and a sweep of EIVA/Ivy League rival Harvard, the Princeton men's volleyball team will head on its final road trip of the regular season this weekend.
Princeton (10-7, 8-3) has clinched an EIVA postseason berth and currently shares second place with travel partner George Mason, which will also be competing against both New England schools. Harvard is currently fourth in the EIVA, and it needs only one win in its final four matches to clinch the final spot in the postseason standings.
Princeton will open its weekend Friday at 7 pm at Harvard, where it hasn't won since 2010. In fact, the Crimson had won four straight matches over Princeton prior to a 3-1 Tiger victory over Harvard on March 2 in Dillon Gym.
On Saturday, Princeton heads to Fairfield, Conn., for a showdown at Sacred Heart. Princeton has won three straight in this series, including a 3-1 victory at home this season.
What's At Stake?
Princeton knows two things about this EIVA postseason:
1) They are in.
2) They are going to State College.
Penn State clinched the regular season title with a road sweep of Princeton and George Mason last weekend. The win over the Tigers, played in front of more than 900 people at a packed Dillon Gym, left both teams feeling optimistic for the future. Penn State rallied from a 1-0, 17-12 hole to win in four and ultimately clinched the regular season title, but Princeton walked away knowing it could compete with the annual power of the EIVA for a second time this season.
Now the goal is to make sure they don't actually compete with Penn State until the EIVA final.
Princeton would clinch at least third place with a sweep this weekend. At that point, the worst it could do is finish 10-4, and it would own every possible two-team or three-team tiebreaker over the Crimson. The last time Princeton finished above fourth place was 2010, and the Tigers found themselves in the EIVA final that season for the first time since 1998.
Winning at Harvard is no easy task, as Penn State learned earlier this season. Princeton has lost two straight, including a 3-2 heartbreaker two seasons ago, but the Tigers have been tested multiple times on the road this season. They have played five ranked teams away from Dillon Gym, including two without reigning EIVA Newcomer of the Year Cody Kessel.
Princeton was thrilled to see the weekend return of Kessel, who teamed with EIVA kills leader Pat Schwagler for 25 of the team's 40 kills against Penn State.
Kessel did not play in Princeton's 3-1 win over Harvard earlier this season.