Playing without the reigning EIVA Newcomer of the Year Cody Kessel and starting two freshmen, the Princeton volleyball team nearly knocked off its third ranked opponent of the season. Despite leading 14th-ranked Loyola 2-1 after a third-set thriller, Princeton fell to the Ramblers in five sets.
Junior Pat Schwagler led Princeton with 20 kills, while freshman outside Devin Stearns added 16, but Loyola held its home court with a 25-27, 25-22, 27-29, 25-16, 15-9 victory to move to 13-8 overall. Princeton, which completes its short Midwestern trip at No. 7 Lewis Tuesday night, fell to 8-5 with the loss.
The Tigers jumped on Loyola early in the first set, racing out to a 7-2 lead after a 5-0 run on Schwagler's serve. Loyola chipped away and saved three set balls before Schwagler finished the set with a kill. After Loyola used a 7-0 run in the second to help earn a 25-22 win, the Tigers bounced back with a strong third set. A combo block by setter Davis Waddell and middle Will Siroky gave Princeton a 21-17 lead, and a Schwagler kill built the advantage to 24-20.
Again, Loyola bounced back and took the next four points. The Ramblers actually served a game ball at 27-26, but a Stearns kill and a hitting error set up Princeton with its sixth set ball, and Siroky made sure this one would count.
The Tigers were one set away from matching the 1998 Princeton team as the only one to defeat three ranked teams in one season, but Loyola would be the stronger team in the final two sets. Less than a week after its upset of MIVA rival Lewis, the Ramblers closed both the fourth and fifth sets on 9-2 runs to clinch the win.
Waddell had 49 assists for Princeton, while sophomore libero Tony Ensbury had 10 digs for the Tigers. Both Siroky and co-captain Michael Dye had four blocks apiece, while freshman Zach Shaw had six kills, six digs and three blocks.