Despite a slow start to the season, men’s volleyball claimed their first victory of the 2013-2014 season with a Valentine’s Day 3-0 victory over Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association rival Sacred Heart. After four straight 2-3 losses to open the season, the Tigers were in desperate need of some momentum as they played their second league opponent of the season.
The Tigers have played matches tight all season, and Friday night was no exception. Though all three sets were tight, with the Tigers winning 25-23, 25-22 and 25-22, their first victory of the season put them on the path to what they hope will be a successful second half of the season.
“The win was good to get,” junior hitter Cody Kessel said. “Even though our record doesn’t show it, this is the best Princeton volleyball team in more than a decade, and we’re really excited to continue our season.”
The Tigers hit .371 for the match, and Kessel gave his strongest performance of the season. Leading the team with 13 kills, six digs and four blocks. Senior hitter Pat Schwagler also had six digs, and sophomore hitter Devin Stearns added twelve kills and four blocks. Freshman blocker Junior Oboh lead the team with six blocks, while senior Davis Waddell started at setter and recorded 35 assists.
The win could not have come at a better time, as the Tigers are set to begin a series of six home EIVA matches over a 12-day period starting Feb. 18. The series will include Sacred Heart, whom the Tigers beat on Friday night, and will conclude with Harvard, whom the Tigers fell to the day before in five sets.
“We actually play at the Hall of Fame Classic [before we begin league play] so we can’t focus solely on EIVA just yet, but we are still where we need to be in the conference,” Kessel added. “And, moving forward, we’re focused on continuing to play good volleyball.”
Before the Tigers return home to attempt to build a streak of EIVA wins they will travel to Springfield, Mass., where they will try to keep momentum from their first victory of the season alive as they compete in the Hall of Fame Classic. As part of the tournament they will face Concordia on Friday at 6 p.m. and Springfield-Santa Cruz on Saturday.