Only five of the EIVA’s eight teams competed last week and there were no conference matchups, so instead of our usual weekly notebook format, we’re going to break down the results for each of those five active teams and give you a preview of the top upcoming matches.
NJIT Blanks Belmont Abbey
The Highlanders traveled to Belmont, North Carolina, early last week to take on the Crusaders of the Conference Carolinas’ Belmont Abbey College. With junior middle Luca Berger hitting .900 for the match, NJIT easily swept its out-of-conference foe 25-12, 25-17, 25-21.
Belmont Abbey hit just .086 as a team, with the NJIT defense picking up 21 digs.
The victory marked the third win in a row for the Highlanders, who swept Charleston in back-to-back matches on March 15 and 16; however, NJIT remains just 7-12 on the season and sixth in the conference standings.
Harvard Splits With Conference Carolinas Opponents
The team from Cambridge, Massachusetts, wrapped up its non-conference schedule with road games against Barton and Mount Olive of the Conference Carolinas.
Barton, which currently sits atop the Conference Carolinas’ table with an 11-1 league record, got the best of Harvard in four sets. The Bulldogs’ junior opposite Angelos Mandilaris, a native of Greece and one of three Greeks on the Barton roster, caught fire and blasted 22 kills, hitting .364. Harvard out-served Barton seven aces to four, but both teams had a large number of service errors (20 for Harvard, 14 for Barton) and Barton claimed the advantage in digs (41 to 30) and blocks (nine to six).
Harvard earned a bit of redemption the next night with a sweep of Mount Olive. Campbell Schoenfeld, who also led the Crimson offense versus Barton, had 15 kills, while Eric Li added 12. Li also posted an impressive .455 hitting percentage, with the team averaging a .374 clip. Mount Olive, which ranks third in the Conference Carolinas standings, only managed a .117 as a team.
Penn State Downs Reigning MIVA Champ
Tuesday’s meeting between Penn State and Ohio State pitted two of the historically best teams east of the Mississippi against each other. Ohio State defeated the Nittany Lions in four sets on Jan. 5, the opening match of the season for Penn State, but this time, the EIVA squad got the win, advancing its lead in the overall series to 73-36-1.
Penn State’s sweep saw Matthew McLaren and Henrik Falck Lauten each contribute 10 kills and post impressively efficient hitting percentages (.333 and .500, respectively).
Ohio State’s Jake Hanes, who has missed a number of matches this season due to injury, led the Buckeyes with nine kills.
The victory ended a four-match skid for the Nittany Lions, who rank fourth in the EIVA standings with a 5-2 conference record.
Sacred Heart Bests DIII No. 3 Kean
Division III squad Kean, located in Union, New Jersey, has had a great 2019, posting a 19-4 overall record and ranking third in the DIII AVCA Top 15 Poll, but the Cougars simply did not have enough firepower to compete with DI Sacred Heart.
The Pioneers outhit Kean .357 to .212 and built a wall at the net to accumulate 10 blocks to Kean’s three.
Sacred Heart’s Emerson Waumans led the team with nine kills, while Kean’s Dylan Flor topped all players with 14 kills.
Princeton Goes 0-3 at BYU Invite
Princeton pushed No. 8 BYU to five sets in the Tigers’ first match at the BYU Invite last week in Provo, but ultimately the Cougars’ star opposite Gabi Garcia Fernandez took over, slamming seven kills in the 15-point fifth set and earning the victory for his team.
“Hats off entirely to Princeton—what a battle from those guys,” BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. “I liked their attitude, their mindset and their approach to this match. They put it on us for a good part of this match and they were never out of it. We have to come out with a better mindset from the start and be a little tougher from the get-go.”
Unfortunately, it appears Princeton expended all of its fight in that first match, because the Tigers lost the next two matches of the road trip, to Hawaii and McKendree, in straight sets. (That said, it’s probably worth mentioning here that Hawaii is 20-0 and the only set the Warriors have lost all season was in their alumni match.)
Despite the four games non-conference losing streak, Princeton remains the top team in the EIVA standings with an 8-1 league record.
Complete EIVA Results: March 18-24
NJIT def. Belmont Abbey 3-0
Barton def. Harvard 3-1
Penn State def. Ohio State 3-0
Harvard def. Mount Olive 3-0
Sacred Heart def. Kean 3-0
BYU def. Princeton 3-2
Hawaii def. Princeton 3-0
McKendree def. Princeton 3-0
Top Upcoming Matches
With the exception of Charleston, which will play Lawrence Tech and Loures University on the road, all EIVA teams return to conference competition this week.
Here are the two matches we’ll be watching most closely.
Penn State vs. Saint Francis
Tuesday, March 26 | 7 p.m. ET
Riding high off of their sweep of Ohio State, the Nittany Lions will be looking to secure a big win over Saint Francis and move up in the EIVA standings. To do so, they’ll have to stop Michael Fisher, who ranks first in the conference in total kills (309) and kills per set (4.68), while maintaining a .333 hitting percentage.
Princeton vs. George Mason
Friday, March 29 | 7 p.m. ET
They’re No. 1 and 2 in the conference with just three EIVA losses between them. Even though Princeton has already beaten George Mason this year, the Patriots are ranked No. 14 in the country, while Princeton only received votes in last week’s poll, so depending on how you look at it, no matter which team wins, it’s an upset.