Men’s volleyball (9-8 overall, 5-2 Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association) will travel to Harvardon Fridayand Sacred Hearton Saturdayto play two high-profile EIVA games. With only one month left in the season, every conference game carries great weight for the Tigers, ranked No. 2 in the EIVA. While Princeton decisively defeated both teams earlier in the season at home, the Orange and Black will face two teams looking to protect home court and seeking revenge.
For the Tigers, this weekend is about staying afloat in the EIVA standings. Late in the season, Penn State has leaped ahead to secure the top seed, maintaining a perfect 6-0 record in the conference. Meanwhile, No. 3 Harvard trails Princeton by just half a game as the two old rivals engage in a down-to-the-wire battle. Both teams hope to stay above the fourth seed to avoid facing Penn State in the EIVA championships.
As expected, a long and growing rivalry follows both the Tigers and the Crimson heading intoFriday’sgame. The Tigers currently hold an edge over the Crimson, maintaining a 10-7 overall series lead. Princeton defeated Harvard in last year’s EIVA semifinals, overcoming two earlier regular season losses.
Both teams also showcase a host of All-Conference Players. On the Princeton side, senior outside hitter Cody Kessel ranks secondin the EIVA in kills, while sophomore Junior Oboh leads the conference in hitting percentage. The Crimson, however, has its own star duo in Casey and D.J. White.
In their February meeting, Princeton defeated Harvard by a set score of 3-1. However, from the perspective of the spectator, the match was far closer than the score revealed. The Crimson actually defeated the Tigers in a close 26-24 first three sets. Yet, the initial loss only poised the Tigers for the following three victories. While all sets proved to be close, Princeton demonstrated the ability to overcome setbacks and finish sets strongly.
The Princeton teams has had even greater success over Sacred Heart, leveraging an impressive 6-2 series lead over the Pioneers. This season the Pioneers have continued to struggle with only a 1-5 record in the EIVA. In February’s matchup between the Tigers and Pioneers, Sacred Heart started all three sets with an impressive showing. However, the Tigers proved to be too dominant, finishing the match with a sweep.
While this weekend’s challenges will surely tire the Tigers, the team will capitalize upon a 10-day intermission before embarking on a three-game home stand.