Too little, too late.
The men's volleyball team controlled the tempo of last night's match against No. 18 Rutgers (4-2) for a game and a half. Unfortunately, it takes three games to win a volleyball match.
Princeton's inconsistent play brought it a 3-1 (15-1, 15-7, 5-15, 15-13) defeat in front of a large crowd at Dillon gym.
Overpowering the Tigers (2-4) with their jump serves, Rutgers dominated the first two games of the match winning them 15-1 and 15-7, respectively. Rutgers put the first game away in an astonishing 15 minutes. As the Tigers have no player with a jump serve, they were completely unprepared for Rutger's serving attack. The Scarlet Knights have five players with blisteringly accurate jump serves.
"We have no one who can duplicate their type of jump serve, so we can't prepare for it in practice," head coach Glenn Nelson said.
Their inability to return Rutger's serves broke the Tigers confidence and concentration which resulted in sloppy play. Occasionally, individual Tigers would show flashes of their ability. The two senior captains, opposite Scott Birdwell and outside Jeff Cooper ended the first two games with eight and seven kills, respectively. Their sporadic offensive play, however, was the nearest thing to a bright spot in the first two games which were awash with Tiger errors.
During the third game, the match went through a complete transformation. The Tigers showed the signs of a complete about face when they won the first point of the third game sparking a 6-0 run.
The shift in momentum was not caused by any change of strategy on Princeton's part. The Tigers simply figured out how to counter the jump serve and the rest of the Rutger's offense.
"We came out flat," Cooper said. "But in the third set, we began to make our passes and blocks."
The Tigers' supremacy did not last with the score being tied most of the fourth game. Princeton took a 13-10 advantage late in the game. The Tigers had chances to close out the game, but a string of errors resulted in the final 15-13 score.
With Rutgers receiving national attention this season, the Tigers expected a more challenging match than last year's 3-0 Princeton domination. However, the slaughter of the first two games was a complete surprise.
"We didn't play to our potential," Cooper said. "If we do, we will be a scary, competitive team. If not, we are merely the mediocre showing of tonight."
Hopefully, the Tiger's will show their promise in tonight's 7:30 game against NYU at Dillon.