Volleyball Closes Six-Match Homestand, Takes Aim At First Place In EIVA
MIDSEASON RECAP VIDEO: Will Siroky
So far, this six-match homestand for the Princeton men's volleyball team has gone as well as anybody could have hoped. If the Tigers can close it with two more victories this weekend, they will find themselves alone in first place in the EIVA.
Princeton (6-6, 5-1 EIVA) will host Sacred Heart (7-10, 2-4) Friday night at 7 pm, and then will conclude its homestand Saturday at 4 pm against Harvard (8-4, 6-1). Both Harvard and Penn State are currently percentage points above Princeton in the EIVA standings, though all three have one loss apiece.
Penn State (13-3, 6-1), ranked 12th in the latest AVCA national poll, heads out of conference this weekend for a match at Ohio State, while the Crimson will play road matches at both George Mason and Princeton. Thus, if either Princeton or Harvard sweeps the weekend, that team will be alone in first place (though it would be tied with Penn State for league losses).
Princeton was in a far different place the last time it saw Harvard. The Tigers rallied from a 2-0 deficit, but they still fell 15-12 in the fifth set for their fifth straight loss. Four of those losses came in the fifth set, leaving Princeton fans wondering if their season was falling apart.
One night later, the Tigers picked up their first win at Sacred Heart. After one more out-of-conference loss, Princeton has won five straight, including four at home in league play. The most memorable, of course, was the 3-2 win at Penn State last Friday; it was Princeton's first win in 36 attempts against the Nittany Lions, and it came in front of more than 1,500 fans at Dillon Gym.
While the win was a thriller, it was also just one of 14 EIVA matches on the schedule this season, and the Tigers have two more to prepare for this weekend. Sacred Heart used a win over George Mason to vault into postseason contention, and a road win at Princeton could go a long way in clinching one of the top four spots in the league.
As for Harvard, the only other Ivy League school with a varsity men's volleyball program, that rivalry has grown significantly over the last few years. The Crimson has had the upper hand recently with six wins in the last seven matches, though Princeton did earn a 3-1 home win last season. Both Pat Schwagler and Devin Stearns had 15 kills apiece in the victory, while Schwagler added 22 in the 3-2 loss at Harvard this season.
Following the Harvard match, Princeton's next nine matches will be on the road. The Tigers return home for the EIVA finale April 18 against George Mason.