It would have been easy enough for the Princeton men's volleyball team to pack it up and turn their attention on EIVA play. Down 2-0 in the final match of its season-opening California road trip, the Tigers showed early character with a 3-2 comeback victory over UC-San Diego.
Princeton, which had lost 11 in a row to UC-San Diego, will return to New Jersey with far more than its first win of the season. The Tigers will come back with renewed confidence and the knowledge that it has a special trio of freshmen that will enter its first season of EIVA play when the team heads to Harvard and Sacred Heart in 10 days.
Freshman Cody Kessel led all players with 22 kills, and he added eight digs and four blocks in the victory. Classmate Will Siroky recorded 10 kills wihtout a single error and added a team-best eight blocks, while libero Tony Ensbury added 10 digs.
Of course, the young efforts were matched by Princeton's veteran leaders. Senior co-captain Scott Liljestrom recorded 52 kills and helped the offense hit at a .323 percentage, and he added 10 digs, five kills and three blocks. Three-year starter Michael Dye recorded 10 kills and added five blocks. Sophomores Jeff Stapleton and Davis Waddell both had nine kills, and Waddell hit .389 in the match.
Princeton had to overcome two tough losses in the first two games before mounting its comeback. The Tigers dropped the opener 26-24 and the second game 25-23, but they never let the third get away from them. The Tritons never led by more than two in the middle game, and a Kessel kill forced a tie at 23. Princeton would take the lead and served game ball four times, and Siroky finished it with a solo block at 28-26.
Princeton carried the momentum into the fourth game and ran off five straight points on the serve of Dexter Scobee to build a 17-13 lead midway through. Siroky finished the fourth game with a kill, and a Stapleton kill in the fifth gave Princeton total control at 9-3. The Tritons got to within four, but Princeton held strong and finished the match with a 15-8 victory.
Princeton, which won't play its home opener until Feb. 28, will begin EIVA play Feb. 10 when it travels to Sacred Heart for a 7 p.m. match.