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Freshman outside hitter Alexander Mrkalj gears up for a pass.

Photo credit: Beverly Schaefer, GoPrincetonTigers.


Men’s volleyball made history last season as EIVA champions. This season, the team seems well on its way toward repeating that title. The team is currently 5–4 overall, but is 3–0 in EIVA conference play. In the American Volleyball Coaches Association’s weekly national top-15, the Tigers have moved up a spot to be tied at No. 11 with Penn State.

The Tigers are currently on a three-game win streak, beginning with their 3–1 defeat of No. 8 UCLA on Jan. 30. After losing to UCLA in five sets just three weeks prior, the Tigers fought tooth and nail to beat the Bruins and jumpstart their string of wins. 

This weekend, Princeton will face Penn State on Friday and Saint Francis on Saturday.

The last time those two teams met was in the EIVA Championship game on April 20, 2019. The Tigers defeated the Nittany Lions 3–2 (28–26, 22–25, 25–18, 20–25, 15–13), giving them the EIVA championship and solidifying their spot in the NCAA tournament last season.

At the time of the championship matchup, senior opposite hitter and middle blocker George Huhmann led the EIVA in kills during the 2019 season with 396 total. Junior setter Joe Kelly was second in the EIVA in assists per set, ending the season at 9.74.

Currently, Princeton has no leaders on the EIVA statistics board. Despite leading the Tigers with 103 kills this season, Huhmann sits at fourth on the national board. While Kelly does not currently rank for assists per set, he does have a team high of 293 assists this season. 

Penn State, on the other hand, leads in both total kills and total digs. Outside hitter Brett Wildman leads the EIVA with 134 total kills, while libero Will Bantle leads with 76 total digs this season. 

Wildman is going to be an offensive threat to the Tigers this weekend, forcing senior right-side hitter Greg Luck and Huhmann to be forceful at the net. Luck leads the Tigers in blocks this season as a hopeful to shut Wildman down.

The Tigers’ most recent match against the Saint Francis Red Flash was in the semifinals of last season’s EIVA Tournament, with Princeton coming out on top, 3–0 (25–23, 25–21, 25–19).

Saint Francis outside hitter Michael Fisher currently holds the highest kills per set in the EIVA with 4.07. He leads Saint Francis in total kills with 122.

Both games are on the road for Princeton. The Tigers will take on the Nittany Lions on Friday, Feb. 14, at 7 p.m. inside Rec Hall at Penn State’s campus. They will then travel to take on the Red Flash on Saturday, Feb. 15, at 4 p.m. inside DeGol Arena in Loretto, Pa. 

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