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Princeton University men's volleyball vs. Northern Greenville Univ., Princeton, NJ, January 12, 2017.

By Beverly Schaefer

The men’s volleyball team began the new year with a challenge. Traveling to Santa Barbara and Los Angeles, the Tigers faced four nationally ranked teams to open the season. Despite the daunting opposition, the Princeton team showed their perseverance with several strong performances including a historic win against No. 8 Stanford, showing the strength and potential of their young squad.

In the season opener, the Tigers faced off against University of Southern California. Despite eventually losing 1-3, the match proved to be much closer than the score line would indicate. The Tigers pushed the Trojans early, forcing several match-points before conceding the first set 28-26. Each of the following sets would also be hotly contested with the third falling in Princeton’s favor 27-25. A late push in the fourth saw the Tigers attempt to extend the match, but USC would hold on claim the first victory of the new year.

Next, the Princeton side faced off against No. 2 Long Beach State in their first match of a doubleheader that day. The Tigers would play No. 8 Stanford later in the evening. The Long Beach State 49ers were the highest-ranked opponent Princeton would face this season and showed their dominance by sweeping Princeton 3-0.

Despite the tough loss, Princeton quickly rebounded, knowing they would need 100 percent to beat Stanford that evening. And they did exactly that. In a shocking upset, the Tigers, playing without senior All-East middle Junior Oboh, posted a 3-2 victory over the Cardinal. The result is historic for the Tigers, who have never defeated a team higher than rank No. 10 since they became a varsity program in 1997.

The Tigers open the match on the right foot by edging out Stanford 28-26 in a grueling first set. From then on, the two teams would trade blow for blow, forcing a decisive fifth set. Despite trailing 9-5 early in the last set, the Princeton side quickly regrouped after a timeout. The Tigers managed to claw back to claim match point. The Cardinal managed to fend this off once, but a crucial kill by sophomore middle blocker George Huhmann give Princeton another chance. A Stanford error then sealed the win for the Tigers.

The exciting win highlighted the young volleyball squad's potential. The Tigers were led by its trio from the class of 2020. Huhmann and outside hitter sophomore Parker Dixon recorded 14 and 13 kills respectively. However, it was classmate outside hitter Greg Luck’s performance that took over the match. Luck posted career highs in kills, digs, and blocks while hitting an efficient .452. He recorded 21 kills, 10 digs, and six blocks in the Princeton win.

The Princeton team would end its trip to the west coast by falling 0–3 to No. 11 Cal State-Northridge.

After an exciting trip, the Tigers will return home for their debut in Dillon Gymnasium today, Jan. 12. Princeton will face Indiana University – Purdue University Fort Wayne at 7 p.m.

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