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Men's volleyball huddles during their game against Barton College. Photo Credit: Beverly Schaefer / GoPrincetonTigers

No. 13 Princeton men’s volleyball (18–12, 13–1 EIVA) faced Barton College (25–5, 14–2 conference) on Thursday, April 25 in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The Tigers took home a 3–1 win (25–23, 25–21, 18–25, 25–20) to mark their first NCAA tournament win in program history.

“I would like to commend our seniors, Kendall Ratter, Bill Andrew, and Corry Short, for leading the charge. They poured their hearts into this match and led the team to our first NCAA victory in program history,” head coach Sam Shweisky said post-game.

The first set was close with the Tigers taking the 25–23 win. During the set, neither team led by more than two points, with junior George Huhmann and Andrew adding two kills to get the Tigers to game point. A Barton service error gave the Tigers the 1–0 advantage.

The Tigers started out strong in the second set, but the Barton Bulldogs kept fighting back and continued to tie the game. Princeton held set-point in their hands after a Bulldog timeout when a double block by Andrew and sophomore Joe Kelly gave the Tigers the win.

The Bulldogs took the third set after taking an initial 10–3 lead over the Tigers. Six errors by Princeton, compared to Barton’s one, helped push the Bulldogs to their 25–18 defeat of the Tigers.

The fourth and final set allowed the Tigers to take a 10–7 lead, holding that three point advantage until they jumped to a five point lead at 19–14. Throughout the rest of the set, the Bulldogs never came within four points of the Tigers.

Overall, Huhmann lead the team with 19 kills, 3 aces, and 4 blocks while Ratter came in with 11 kills, 2 blocks, and 5 digs. Junior Greg Luck had 10 kills, and junior Parker Dixon contributed 8. Kelly lead the Tigers with 44 assists and 6 digs while Short also added 6 digs to the stats.

The Tigers are moving on to the NCAA Quarterfinals as they face No. 3 Pepperdine (22–6, 9–3 conference) on Tuesday, April 30 at 10:30 p.m. Eastern Time. The winner of the game will face No. 2 Long Beach State on May 2.

Princeton faced the Pepperdine Waves as their first game of the season where they lost 1–3 (10–25, 13–25, 25–19, 20–25). Despite a slow start in the first two sets, the Tigers proved that they can hang with the “big dogs” in the final two.

During this match, Dixon had 10 kills and 4 digs while Luck added 9 kills and 5 digs. Kelly had 20 assists while Short had 4 digs to round out the Tigers.

Pepperdine paid close attention to Huhmann during this match, holding him to only four kills and one block. With Huhmann sitting at 3.48 kills per set and a total of 947 kills for the 2019 season, we can expect to see the Waves continuing to pay attention to him. Despite the potential for Huhmann to be held down, this could open up opportunities for Dixon, Luck, Ratter, and Andrew to make big moves at the net offensively.

Huhmann and Dixon were also both named American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Honorable Mention All-Americans on Monday, becoming two out of only 5 total Princeton Volleyball players who have been named All-Americans. These players include Marin Gjaja ’91, Derek Devens ’98, and Cody Kessel ’15.

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