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Men's volleyball win one, lose one during road trip to Pennsylvania

This past weekend, the Princeton men’s volleyball team travelled through the state of Pennsylvania, taking on some of the toughest teams NCAA Volleyball has to offer. They went 1-1 on the weekend, falling 0-3 to Penn State University Friday evening and winning 3-0 against St. Francis University Saturday afternoon.

The Tigers (9-8 overall, 5-2 Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Conference) have had a fair amount of experience so far against high-ranked teams —they spent Spring Break battling Ohio State University and Ball State University, who are ranked fifthand 17thnationwide, respectively. Despite sustaining losses in both, the team was not without signs of promise. In particular, the match with Ball State was particularly close, as the Tigers would battle the Cardinals down to the final set, losing 2-3.


Despite an encouraging result against a tough team, they knew that the battle against Penn State would be anything but an easy affair. The Nittany Lions (12-9 overall, 6-0 EIVA) have been dominant in conference play so far, and boast one of the nation’s top talents in Aaron Russell. Russell is second nationwide in kills per set, and sixth in aces per set.

This is not to say, however, that the Tigers lack destructive weapons of their own. Senior outside hitter Cody Kessel has been excellent this season, ranking fourthin kills per set and 11thin assists nationwide. His strong offensive performance earned him his first EIVA Offensive Player of the Week Award back in January.

Kessel would be the focal point for the Princeton offense on Friday, racking up 12 kills, one ace and one assist in the match. He went toe-to-toe with reigning EIVA Player of the Week Russell, who also had 12 kills in the match. Aiding Kessel was junior outside hitter Devin Stearns, who put up 11 kills on the game. Despite the sweep on the day, their efforts are evidenced in the closeness of the games —Princeton’s loss margins were 6, 4 and 2 in their three games.

Ultimately, the match’s result was similar to the last meeting between these two teams, where Penn State defeated Princeton in the EIVA Championships, keeping the Tigers from a bid for the NCAA Championships.

The Tigers would hence enter St. Francis’ gym with a three game losing streak. After a string of heavy-hitting opponents, the schedule finally seemed to ease up a little. St. Francis (4-16, 2-4) was not a top contender in the conference, but of course, there is still room for error against any team. This win would be crucial for the Tigers as the playoffs begin to loom.

The Tigers showed no signs of letup against the Friars, sweeping 32-30, 25-16, and 25-22. They showcased a very balanced attack across these games. Stearns and senior middle blocker Will Siroky would lead the way, recording 11 and eight kills, respectively. Rounding out the offensive effort would be Kessel, sophomore middle blocker Junior Oboh and sophomore opposite hitter Kurt Thiemann would all record 6 kills on the game.


The win keeps the Tigers ranked second in the conference, and just 1.5 games behind Penn State. They now look forward to playing only fellow EIVA teams for the rest of the regular season.

The Tigers will take on Harvard on Friday in Cambridge, Mass. The Tigers defeated the Crimsons three sets to one in their last meeting on Feb. 13.

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