Junior Davis Waddell is not new to the starting lineup. He is new to his position, though, and he is gaining comfort and confidence every time he plays. The starting setter helped Princeton hit .409 and led the Tigers to a 3-1 home win over Sacred Heart Friday night.
Princeton moved to 6-3 overall, 4-2 in the EIVA, with a 25-16, 25-18, 23-25, 25-10 victory over the Pioneers Friday night in Dillon Gym. The win, combined with Harvard's 3-0 loss at George Mason Friday night, means Princeton will play Harvard Saturday at 4 pm for at least a share of second place in the league.
Freshman Devin Stearns hit a team-best 11 kills, while the middle duo of Brad Howard and Michael Dye combined for 16 kills and only one error in Princeton's fifth win in its last six matches. Dye had nine kills on 11 swings for an .818 attack percentage, while Howard had seven kills on 10 swings. The middles also combined for 14 blocks, including eight by Dye.
Junior Jeff Stapleton was highly effective himself, killing nine balls on 15 swings with only one error.
Running the offense is Waddell, the former starting outside who has gotten this offense clicking at a key point in the league season.
"I think the big thing was I got the middles going early," said Waddell, who had 38 assists and helped Princeton hit .650 in the decisive fourth set. "It opens up the offense for everybody else. We are starting to find a better balance. We were relying on our pins too much early in the season."
Sophomore Tony Ensbury led the defense with 14 digs, while junior Pat Schwagler recorded nine digs with his 10 kills and three aces. He had a long service run early in the fourth set that all-but clinched the match and turned the attention to Saturday's 4 pm showdown with Harvard.
"It's huge," Waddell said. "Since I've been here, we're 0-4 against them. We need to get on the board against them. It means more than just a win or a loss for us."