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Volleyball Rallies In Marathon Thriller, Keeps Postseason Dream Alive

By: Princeton Athletic Communications
          Release: 04/18/2012
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Freshman Cody Kessel recorded 22 kills and seven blocks in a 3-2 comeback win over NJIT.
Courtesy: Beverly Schaefer

BOX SCORE

With its playoff chances on life support, the Princeton men's volleyball team pulled together a three-set stretch of clutch play and came away with a 3-2 home victory over NJIT. The win eliminated the Highlanders from postseason contention and gives Princeton the opportunity to possibly play for a berth on the final day.

After dropping the first two sets, including a 27-25 loss in the opener, the men's volleyball team put together wins of 25-20, 25-21 and 15-13 to move to 12-9 overall, 6-7 in the EIVA.

Princeton still remains fifth in the league, but it holds the tiebreaker over Saint Francis, which goes into the final weekend with a 7-6 mark. The Red Flash are traveling to unbeaten Penn State for a 7 pm match Saturday night; should the Nittany Lions win that, Princeton would have a chance to break into the playoffs on the final day.

Of course, Princeton has no easy task. It will need to go to George Mason and defeat a Patriots team that already owns a 3-0 victory over the Tigers this season. Of course, that was a different team than the one that valiantly battled out of a hole to keep its season alive.

Freshman Cody Kessel led Princeton with 22 kills and seven blocks, while sophomore Jeff Stapleton caught fire in the second half of the match and recorded 14 kills. His final one finished the Highlanders, who consistently played from behind in the fifth after an early 4-2 lead.

Senior setter Scott Liljestrom, playing his final match in Dillon Gym after three years as a starter, paced the offense with 52 assists, and he added nine digs. His leadership helped a young roster stay upbeat throughout some tense moments throughout the match, especially during a third set that featured nine tie scores and four lead changes.

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