Story Courtesy of Princeton
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The final chapter in the careers of Princeton seniors Junior Oboh, Mike Fuerst and Trey Sickler seemed destined for disappointment less than two months ago. That wasn't good enough for them, nor was it good enough for their young, talented Tiger teammates. So they took the pen, and they authored something far more dramatic, far more exciting, and far more historic.
And that final chapter … well, it isn't finished yet.
Princeton made program history Friday night by recording the first road win ever at Penn State, which ended a 32-match drought against the traditional power of Eastern volleyball. The win clinched the fourth and final berth in the EIVA postseason, which begins next Thursday night at George Mason, and it clinched the first two-match win streak over Penn State since 1998, which also happens to be the last time Princeton won that EIVA title.
This win also happened to be the most decisive one since the 1998 championship run, when Princeton recorded two 3-0 wins over Penn State (including one in the EIVA semifinal). Princeton edged the hosts for a 25-23 first set, and then took absolute control of the final two sets for consecutive 25-17 wins. The Tigers' third-set offense was as efficient as it has been at any point this season; they had 15 kills on 22 swings without an error (.682).
"I couldn't be prouder of the way the guys competed tonight," head coach Sam Shweisky said. "There was a focus and attention to detail that was there from the first serve to the last one, and it shows what this team is capable of on the eve of the EIVA postseason. I give a ton of credit to our senior leaders, who helped get us through some tough times and capitalized on the opportunity tonight. Junior Oboh gave us four kills, four blocks and four digs, while Mike Fuerst had a huge momentum ace late in the first set to give us the lead."
While Shweisky tipped his cap to the seniors, everybody in attendance had to salute sophomore opposite George Huhmann, who continues to raise the bar on what can be considered his career-best match. He carried Princeton to this historic feat at Penn State with 19 kills, three blocks, three digs and a .531 attack percentage. Huhmann had help, especially from classmates Greg Luck and Parker Dixon, who combined for 15 kills. Corry Short had one of his best efforts of the season with 12 digs, while Joe Kelly paced the offense with 31 assists.
But Huhmann's performance is the type that warrants All-America and Player of the Year consideration. He had five of the final six kills of the first set, the only close one in the match, and he had six in each of the final two sets to keep Penn State from getting any type of traction in the match.
The Princeton win, combined with George Mason's 3-2 win over Harvard Friday night, clinches the matchups for Thursday's EIVA semifinals. Harvard and Penn State will meet in the opening semifinal, with the Tigers taking on the host Patriots in the nightcap. Based on regular-season matchups, this could be the most exciting and anticipated EIVA postseason in history; of the 11 matchups so far this season between the four schools (Harvard and George Mason play again Saturday night), six went to a decisive fifth set. All six represent one meeting apiece between each of the four schools, including a 3-2 Princeton win over Penn State, and 3-2 Princeton losses to both George Mason and Harvard.