Freshman Cody Kessel has apparently made a big impression on more than just his Princeton volleyball teammates. As he prepares for his first home EIVA weekend, he recently won the fan vote for the Off The Block Fan Choice Player of the Month.
Kessel, who currently ranks fifth in the EIVA in both kills (3.6) and points (4.2), received 42.72 percent of the total vote to beat runner-up BYU middle attacker Russell Lavaja by 42 votes out of more than 2,000 votes cast for this national college men’s volleyball award.
The Player of the Month award recognizes the best individual performances from NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball players during the month and gives volleyball fans from around the world the chance to determine who was the best player.
Kessel, along with freshman teammates Will Siroky and Tony Ensbury, have given Princeton a big boost during the early season. The Tigers are currently in second place in the EIVA with a 4-2 record, which includes three road wins. However, the play of the upperclassmen starters can't be overlooked, either.
Junior Michael Dye currently ranks second in the EIVA with a .394 attack percentage, and his .8 blocks per set are just outside of the Top 10. Senior setter Scott Liljestrom averages 9.64 assists per set and has Princeton hitting at a .327 clip in EIVA matches, the second-highest total in the league. Even more, it has been Liljestrom's leadership that head coach Sam Shweisky points to first when he talks about the team's strong start.
Princeton has an opportunity to move to 6-2 this weekend, though both Sacred Heart and Harvard will be looking to move up in the EIVA standings as well.
The Tigers will start the weekend Friday at 7 when they host Sacred Heart. The Pioneers are 1-6 in league play, but they showed their potential in a home win over George Mason earlier this season. Sacred Heart's Nick Hunt ranks second in the league with 4.06 kills per set.
The only player in the EIVA with more kills is Harvard's Matt Jones, who is averaging 4.14 kills per set. Jones is having an All-East quality season; he leads the league with 0.58 service aces, and he ranks fourth with a .360 attack percentage.
Princeton needs no reminder of Jones' ability. He had 16 kills in a 3-0 home win for the Crimson earlier this season. Of course, those numbers didn't match those of teammate D.J. White, who recorded 18 kills and hit .739 in the win. While the final 3-0 tally looks decisive, the first two sets were decided by two points apiece.