There were five different times late in either the first or third set when the Princeton men's volleyball team served for a lead and a chance at a set ball. On all five occasions, the host Cal-Baptist Lancers didn't need to even return the serve. Princeton lost a tight 3-0 season opener Tuesday night, despite a resilient battle against the former Top 15 program.
For head coach Sam Shweisky, there was plenty to feel positive about. His All-EIVA duo of Pat Schwagler and Cody Kessel combined for 19 kills, while sophomore Devin Stearns showed that he was ready to take a step forward with a team-best 12 kills. His pair of Top-50 freshmen, Junior Oboh and Chris Kennedy, both had impressive collegiate debuts; Oboh had eight kills and hit a team-best .533, while Kennedy came off the bench and led the team with 32 assists.
Ultimately, though, 22 service errors and an inability to slow down the Lancer offense in key moments plagued the Tigers in a 32-30, 25-21, 30-28 loss Tuesday night. It was Princeton's 12th straight loss to the MPSF squad, though the Tigers certainly had their opportunities to get this one.
Princeton found itself down five points midway through the opening set, but Schwagler used a big service run, including a pair of aces, to get the Tigers back within a point. Princeton would grab a lead and held two set balls in the set, but the Lancers scored the final three points to claim a 32-30 win.
Cal-Baptist won four of the final five points of the second set, including two off service errors, to grab a 2-0 lead, and it led through much of the third. Princeton continued to battle, and a pair of kills by junior middle Will Siroky earned his side a set ball. A service error and a Lancer kill gave momentum back to Cal-Baptist; though Princeton fought off four match balls, a kill by Jonathan Tuttle ended a 30-28 win for the home team.
Schwagler had nine kills, five digs and four service aces, while Kessel had 10 kills, five digs and a pair of blocks. Junior Tony Ensbury had a team-high six digs, while Siroky led the team with three blocks.
Princeton will try for its first win of the season Wednesday night when it takes on Concordia.