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The Princeton men's volleyball team has shown flashes of brilliance on the court this season, but it has yet to put enough together to earn its first victory of the season. There would be no better time to get that first victory than in Thursday night's EIVA opener, when the Tigers face reigning league finalist Harvard.
Princeton (0-4, 0-0 EIVA) will begin its 12-match trek through EIVA play at 7 pm Thursday against Harvard (2-3, 1-0 EIVA) in a match that will be streamed live on the Ivy League Digital Network. The Tigers will continue the road trip Friday night at Sacred Heart (4-5, 1-1 EIVA), and that game will be streamed live by Sacred Heart; both the Harvard and Sacred Heart matches will also have live stats available. All links can be found above.
The Tigers are coming off back-to-back near misses against teams either in our just outside the AVCA Top 15. On Friday, the Tigers held a 10-8 lead in the fifth set against IPFW, which joined Harvard among teams reveiving votes in the latest poll; the Mastadons rallied for a 15-13 win. The next night, nationally ranked Ball State overcame a 2-0 deficit by winning a tight fourth and carrying that momentum into the fifth in a 3-2 win.
Princeton has again been led by senior Pat Schwagler, a reigning first-team All-EIVA honoree. Schwagler is averaging 3.2 kills per set, and he shares the team lead with 1.1 blocks. Fellow outside Devin Stearns has also looked good in his sophomore season, recording 2.9 kills and leading all non-middles with a .316 attack percentage.
Thursday will also serve as the EIVA debut for freshman starters Chris Kennedy and Junior Oboh. Kennedy is averaging 9.4 assists per set, while Oboh shares the team lead in blocks and his hitting over .280 with 1.4 kills per set.
Princeton will need to be at its best against Harvard, which knocked off George Mason in the 2013 postseason to reach its first EIVA championship match. The Crimson are 2-3 this season, but all three losses came against nationally ranked programs. They are led by brothers D.J. and Casey White, both of whom combine for 4.8 kills per set.
Princeton and Harvard split the season series last year, with both teams winning at home. Cody Kessel, another first-team All-EIVA selection, had 14 kills and 12 digs in the 3-2 loss at Harvard last year.
Princeton will travel to Sacred Heart Friday night for a showdown with the Pioneers. They are led by Brad Borsay, who ranks in the EIVA top five with 3.17 kills per set. The Tigers swept Sacred Heart last season.