Men's Volleyball: Siroky leads comeback to secure playoff spot
And perfection came in the form of freshman middle blocker Will Siroky. After Princeton earned the necessary win over New Jersey Institute of Technology on Wednesday, Siroky led the Tigers (13-9 overall, 7-7 EIVA) to a close 3-2 win over George Mason (12-16, 8-6) on Saturday, propelling Princeton into the playoffs. Siroky recorded an incredible 16 kills with no errors, posting a .727 attack percentage as well as two blocks and two aces.
Fellow rookie Cody Kessel joined Siroky in dominating the offense, hitting a team-best 17 kills with five digs and three blocks. The last member of the freshman trio, Tony Ensbury, worked the defense as the libero and added 17 digs.
Senior setter Scott Liljestrom once again demonstrated his experience and leadership on the court, as he posted 35 assists and an impressive 12 digs. Junior middle blocker Michael Dye recorded seven kills and three blocks, while sophomore Davis Waddell had three kills.
Sophomore outside hitter Jeff Stapleton struggled on offense, posting an uncharacteristically low -.368 attack percentage. But Siroky’s outstanding night gave the Tigers plenty of offense.
“The passers did a great job of keeping Scott in system, and when Tony, Jeff, Davis and Cody are passing like they did, Scott does a great job of spreading the ball out to different hitters,” Siroky said. “And Mason’s blockers probably figured they should worry about our pins more, and Scott kept putting the ball in the perfect place. Honestly, everyone made my job really easy.”
The 19-25, 25-22, 22-25, 25-23, 15-11 victory provides a much needed fresh start for the Tigers. Princeton will need to leave the thought of barely qualifying for the postseason behind and instead focus on what lies ahead.
“Well, as much as the postseason is a different game and everyone is 0-0, I think we feel good about the way we’re playing right now,” Siroky said. “Obviously, things can be cleaned up, but riding a six-game win streak into the playoffs certainly gives us the confidence to know that we can beat anyone we play as long as we take care of our side of the net.”
The key to a Tiger victory lies in the team’s remarkable ability to rally, as demonstrated in its close match earlier in the season against Penn State, which finished undefeated in EIVA play for a fourth straight year. If Princeton can repeat its performance against the No. 8 Nittany Lions, the Tigers have a legitimate chance at overthrowing the league champions, who have held the title since 1999.
As young as the team is, the players are still confident in their chances of winning.
“When we serve the ball effectively and our passing holds up, we can beat anyone in the nation,” Kessel said.
As Princeton heads to Pennsylvania for the EIVA semifinal on Thursday, the Tigers will need to be perfect once again in their hunt for a title.