With just over a month to go before the conference playoffs and a month and a half from the NCAA Tournament, men’s college volleyball is heating up.
Keep reading to find out the top stories from the last seven days of action in the most prestigious men’s volleyball conference on the East Coast, the EIVA.
Series Of The Week
Princeton vs. NJIT
Heading into last week’s slate of matches, NJIT had yet to score a conference victory and Princeton sat atop the standings with just one loss.
While each of those facts remains true after the two teams played each other twice last week, the last-place team in the conference did everything it could to frustrate the top team.
In Tuesday’s match, NJIT out-blocked Princeton 15 to nine and only trailed by eight points overall. The Highlanders even boasted a better team hitting percentage (.309) than Princeton (.264). Princeton, however, earned the win in five (25-20, 25-19, 18-25, 14-25, 17-15) in part thanks to 10 aces compared to NJIT’s six.
On Friday, an even closer match saw Princeton win in five once again (25-20, 25-22, 19-25, 16-25, 16-14), and this time both teams had exactly 70.5 points. Princeton, led offensively by George Huhmann, Greg Luck and Parker Dixon, was slightly better in the kills column—49 to NJIT’s 46—but NJIT once again won the blocking battle, tallying 17 stuffs to Princeton’s nine and executed a more efficient offense, hitting .265 to Princeton’s .167.
California Programs Prevail In Out-of-Conference Matches
Sacred Heart and Penn State both traveled to the West Coast last week.
The Red Flash lost in straight sets (25-21, 25-20, 25-23) to No. 12 Cal State Northridge on Friday, despite 18 kills from Michael Fisher. Then, they suffered a similar fate Saturday night, with the No. 1-ranked Long Beach State 49ers collecting a 3-0 victory (25-12, 25-21, 25-14). Fisher, though still the top offensive producer for Sacred Heart, only managed 10 kills against the reigning national champs.
Penn State managed to push No. 11 USC to five sets, but ultimately lost by two points in the fifth. Freshman outside hitter Brett Wildman came in as a sub in the first set and led the Nittany Lions with 16 kills. USC’s 6-foot-8 sophomore led the match with 23 kills.
In their second Golden State match, the Lions lost to UCLA in straight sets, with the Bruins holding a significant offensive advantage (42 to 24 kills, .530 to .117 hitting percentage). Wildman, this time a starter, once again led Penn State with eight kills. Daenan Gyimah led UCLA with 11 kills.
Lewis Scores A Win For The Midwest
Princeton lost in straight sets to visiting Lewis of the MIVA conference on Saturday. Despite the final 3-0 scoreline, the Tigers kept the margins tight in each set, even out-hitting the Flyers .294 to .275.
Behind the service line, however, No. 7 Lewis was dominant, tallying 10 aces with 11 errors, compared to Princeton’s eight aces and 19 errors.
On the season, Princeton has yet to score a victory over a ranked non-conference opponent.
Off Week For Sacred Heart, George Mason & Harvard
While many EIVA teams took a short break from conference play last week, three of the conference’s squads did not compete at all.
George Mason will get back into the game on Tuesday, facing Pepperdine in Malibu. After 14 days without a match for either team, Sacred Heart travels to Cambridge to play Harvard on Saturday.
Player Of The Week
Alvaro Gimeno, NJIT
The team didn’t get a win in either of its matches this week, but NJIT’s accomplishment of pushing the conference’s top team to five sets not once but twice, must have been valuable for collective confidence.
Driving that strong performance was outside hitter Alvaro Gimeno, a 6-9 sophomore from Salou, Spain. On Tuesday, Gimeno led the Highlanders with 17 kills, hitting .324. He matched that same number on Friday, this time leading all players, hitting .275.
Complete EIVA Results
Princeton def. NJIT 3-2
Charleston def. Wittenberg 3-1
Princeton def. NJIT 3-2
Charleston def. Emmanuel (Ga.) 3-1
CSUN def. Saint Francis 3-0
USC def. Penn State 3-2
Emmanuel (Ga.) def. Charleston 3-2
Lewis def. Princeton 3-0
UCLA def. Penn State 3-0
Long Beach def. Saint Francis 3-0