In front of a capacity crowd, in an arena with as much energy as its seen in more than a decade, the Princeton men's volleyball team dropped a dramatic 3-1 thriller to the 13th-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions.
Princeton, which dropped its first home match of the season and first EIVA match in six attempts, grabbed a 1-0 lead with a 25-20 set, but Penn State took the final three for its 10th win of the league season. After rallying for a 25-23 win in the second, Penn State finished the match with 25-18 and 25-20 wins.
"This was the most electrifying energy for a Princeton volleyball match in my four years here," said head coach Sam Shweisky. "I want to thank the band, all our fans and the great student support that made Dillon such a special place tonight."
Ultimately, the second set was the critical one for both sides. Princeton had the match lead, the momentum and a 16-11 advantage after one of Pat Schwagler's team-best 16 kills. Penn State rallied for six of the next eight points to close the gap, and it ultimately grabbed the lead on one of Aaron Russell's 18 kills. A Nick Goodell kill gave Penn State the 25-23 lead, and the Nittany Lions never let that momentum go the rest of the match.
Schwagler had 16 kills and four blocks, while sophomore Cody Kessel, in only his second match back from injury, had nine kills, six digs and three blocks. Senior captain Michael Dye added six kills, four blocks and hit .400 for the match, while sophomore Will Siroky had six blocks. Kessel led Princeton with six digs, while sophomore Tony Ensbury had five.
Despite the loss, Princeton clinched a berth in the EIVA postseason because of Saint Francis' 3-2 loss at George Mason. The Tigers likely can't finish any higher than the second seed, and that position will be determined by upcoming matches at Harvard (April 5) and at home against George Mason (April 20)