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The opportunity for both a historic victory and a chance to build upon its EIVA postseason résumé await the Princeton men's volleyball team in a pair of home matches this weekend.
Princeton, winners of six of their last seven matches, will host the eighth-ranked Lewis Flyers Friday at 7 pm in Dillon Gym. One night later, the Tigers will take on EIVA rival NJIT in a rematch of a 3-2 thriller during the regular season. That match will also be a 7 pm start, and both are free for all fans.
The Tigers are currently in a second-place tie in the EIVA with travel partner George Mason, and both teams are coming off home sweeps last weekend. Princeton, which is 3-0 at Dillon Gym this season, scored a 3-1 win over Sacred Heart before knocking off 14th-ranked Harvard 3-1 Saturday night.
The victory over Harvard was special for multiple reasons. First, it moved Princeton ahead of Harvard in the EIVA standings, and it also gave the Tigers their first win over the Crimson since the 2010 season.
It was also a second victory over a ranked team this season, following the season-opening 3-1 win at 12th-ranked UC Santa Barbara. Since men's volleyball became a varsity program at Princeton in 1997, no Tiger team had ever won two regular-season matches over ranked opponents.
The single-season record for ranked wins is three, set by the 1998 Princeton team. That squad defeated two ranked teams in the EIVA playoffs en route to its lone berth in the NCAA Championships. If Princeton can defeat Lewis Friday night, it would match that total with half a season remaining.
Eighth-ranked Lewis (13-5) comes into Friday's match riding a 12-match win streak, including Wednesday's 3-2 comeback win at George Mason. The Patriots won the first two sets and had multiple match balls in the fourth, but 2012 NCAA semifinalist Lewis rallied for the victory.
Geoff Powell led Lewis with 21 kills and 14 digs in the victory at Mason. The sophomore is averaging just below 3.7 kills per set and ranks 15th nationally in the category. He will be facing one of the few hitters ranked above him, as Princeton junior Pat Schwagler is averaging 3.9 kills per set this season.
Four of the Top 20 leaders in blocks will also be on the court, as Lewis' Bobby Walsh (11th) and Princeton's Michael Dye (12th) and Will Siroky (14th) are averaging just below 1.2 blocks per set. Lewis' Yiwei Zhou is 17th nationally with 1.14 blocks per set, though he recorded eight in the win at George Mason.
On Saturday, Princeton takes on the Highlanders in a return to league play. On Feb. 15, the Tigers held off NJIT in a tight fifth set for a 15-13 victory. Schwagler had 24 kills and six blocks in the win, while junior setter Davis Waddell added 55 assists for the Tigers. Waddell has moved to fourth in the EIVA in assists; more importantly, though, is the fact that Princeton has moved to second in league play in attack percentage (.280).