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The men's volleyball team has the opportunity to make some history Friday night at NJIT; in doing so, it would also be extending its immediate future. A victory over the in-state Highlanders this weekend would ensure Princeton three straight trips to the EIVA semifinals for the first time since 1996-98, a run that included the Tigers' lone league championship.
Princeton has reached the EIVA postseason the majority of the time since it achieved varsity status prior to the 1997 season. However, the league postseason included a quarterfinal round until recently, and Princeton had never made it beyond that round three consecutive years.
The Tigers have been part of the EIVA's final four teams in both 2012 and 2013, and they're looking to go beyond that point this year. A win Friday night would be a positive first step, as it would both ensure a trip to the playoffs, as well as keep them in good position to stay among the top three in league play.
Princeton vs. NJIT
Princeton defeated NJIT 3-0 in the first meeting between the two teams, but it was a match that had some early drama. The Highlanders actually served set ball four times in the opener, but they ultimately fell 32-30 after back-to-back aces from freshman setter Chris Kennedy. The Tigers rode that momentum to more comfortable victories of 25-20 and 25-21 to clinch the win.
Kennedy thrived during that six-match homestand, which included the 3-2 victory over No. 12 Penn State, but a recent injury left him on the sidelines last weekend when the Tigers fell in the road rematch to the Nittany Lions. Kennedy will likely be a gametime decision this Friday, though classmate Junior Oboh has been representing the Princeton Class of 2017 well; Oboh earned Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. National Freshman of the Week honorable mention after strong performances at both Penn State and Saint Francis.
Friday's match will feature two of the league's top hitters. Princeton junior Cody Kessel currently ranks third in the EIVA with 3.44 kills per set, while NJIT freshman Jabarry Goodridge ranks fourth with 3.33 kills per set.
Around The League
While Friday night will include a pair of New Jersey matches with EIVA postseason significance (George Mason at Rutgers-Newark and Princeton at NJIT), the most significant match of the night takes place in Boston, where Harvard will look to split the season series with Penn State. A Harvard win would leave both teams with two losses in league play, and the two teams would be in a fight to the finish to clinch home court advantage for the postseason.
Saint Francis, which is a half game behind George Mason for the fourth and final playoff spot in the EIVA, travels to both Sacred Heart and Harvard this weekend.