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Stoic Morrow sets tone for men's volleyball

Jason Morrow has always been the center of attention, but the senior setter for the men's volleyball team would be the first to say that he is a star by coincidence and not by design.

According to the second-year captain of a team looking for its first Final Four trip since Morrow's sophomore year, leadership is "inherent to being a setter – it comes with the position."

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The role of the setter on any volleyball team is to position the ball for the hitters in the front row, a job Morrow has handled with ease since his freshman year.

"From Day One he stepped in and didn't miss a beat," head coach Glenn Nelson says of the talented Morrow. "The older guys took him under their wing."

Now it is Morrow's time to help the younger guys get better.

During his freshman campaign, the Tigers lost in the finals of the Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association tournament to Penn State. The following year, however, Princeton would win that tournament and make its first NCAA Final Four appearance ever.

During that sophomore season, Morrow was named Most Valuable Player of the EIVA tournament, and the team advanced all the way to the Final Four. Last year, as a junior, Morrow led the rebuilding Tigers as they advanced to the EIVA quarterfinals.


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A volleyball player since he was in eighth grade, Morrow attended Harvard Westlake in North Hollywood, California, with current Tiger teammate Tom Dowd, a senior middle.

"He has always been one of the top players on the team," Dowd says. "Jason forms the basis of any team he plays on. He's just a great guy to play with."

Dowd should know, as he has played with Morrow for the past nine years.

With all the time he has dedicated to volleyball, it would be natural for Morrow to rattle off a list of accomplishments and big games, but only one stands out in his mind. The netman remembers the first Final Four trip ever for Princeton men's volleyball as the "biggest moment of my athletic career." Morrow looks to this year's team to repeat that finish.

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"With five starters back, we should shoot to be one of the better teams in the East," Morrow says. "We're trying to get back [to the Final Four.] Coach Nelson told us it was 27 years coming and it would be nice if we got back."

The Tigers, coming off a rebuilding year, will certainly look to Morrow's experience to key the offense.

While many players come into a program as freshmen and accept a limited role on the team, the exact opposite was true of Morrow. While he and the team would have to wait until his second year for success on a national scale, Morrow led the Tigers to an EIVA championship-game loss to Penn State in his first season.

Because his career got off to such a fast start, this star was something of an anomaly in college sports. Being such a major part of a successful team as a freshman is extremely rare.

"It's hard to assess progress because he had such great talent coming in," Nelson says. "He has done arguably the best job of running the offense ever. His selection as MVP [of the EIVA tournament as a sophomore] was a testament to Jason's leadership."

With so much of the team's recent success due to the precision of one player, it would be all too easy for Morrow to claim the spotlight for himself. Last year's results, however, suggest the importance of team play in volleyball.

"The supporting cast was not as strong [last year,]" Nelson says.

Even the star power of Morrow was not able to carry the Tigers to a repeat trip to the NCAA Final Four.

With the return of a more mature supporting cast, however, Jason Morrow could quietly lead the primed Princeton offense to another Final Four berth.