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Men's Vollyball crushes Crimson 3-0; Birdwell leads team to win

"To sum up Harvard – it was just another successful drive-by. The Crimson bled profusely," said men's volleyball's sharpshooter, senior opposite Scott Birdwell.

The scene at Dillon Gym Saturday was brutal, as Princeton (8-5) spared no one, not even Harvard opposite David Olson, a high school teammate of Birdwell and senior outside Jeff Cooper.

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Princeton cruised to a 3-0 victory, downing the Crimson by three identical scores of 15-6.

"We rocked them – Ivy League style," sophomore outside Pablo Clarke said. "From the opening serve, they didn't know what hit them. It was like a train you couldn't stop, only contain."

The Tigers barely slowed as they ran through the Crimson.

Religious experience

"Unless there is an act of God, we're going to beat Harvard," Birdwell said. "It would have to be an unearthly occurrence for Harvard to beat us."

Princeton played a solid match overall, albeit against a weak and easily wounded Harvard team. The Tigers still suffer lapses in concentration at times – Princeton's inability to close out games has been its Achilles' heel all season long – but these were not a factor against the overmatched Crimson.

Sophomore setter Jason Morrow worried that the Tigers are falling into "bad habits" when playing weak teams like Harvard, where the match was for all intents and purposes over almost before it began.

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The moment of highest drama Saturday occurred just before the start of the match, when Birdwell discovered that his jersey was missing. His suspicions immediately turned to Pablo "the Saboteur" Clarke.

Pressing problems

"He 'fessed up to it at the end," Birdwell said. "There was no need for physical harm to extort the information from him – Pablo crumbled after just one look, as any traitor would."

When pressed about the incident, Clarke denied comment.

"I really can't comment on that at this time, but there have been allegations," Clarke said. "I've been instructed not to discuss anything that has to do with any type of jersey."

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In an apparently unrelated incident, an unidentified Harvard player also claimed that his jersey had been stolen after the bloodbath was over.

Gunner

Sparked by his missing jersey, Birdwell fired at will, hammering down a match-high 16 kills for a .650 hitting percentage. Cooper added 14 kills.

The lopsided victory meant that the Tiger reserves received valuable playing time. This is experience that could benefit Princeton down the road, especially as it looks ahead to important matches at George Mason and Rutgers-Newark next week.

Princeton travels to face George Mason Saturday.

"We should beat them relatively easily," Cooper said. "At the same time, we don't want to look past them."

The Tigers will have a tougher time against No. 13 Rutgers-Newark (10-3), who defeated Princeton, 4-1, Feb. 11.

"A win would be very important to us," Cooper said. "We have had a hard time finishing close games, and a victory would be a great confidence builder."

The Tigers face Rutgers-Newark Mar. 10.

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