Princeton to open season at UC Irvine

Photo courtesy of Princeton athletics

Jonathan Bates | Associate Editor

The reigning EIVA champions will open their 2020 campaign with a match on December 29 at UC Irvine. The two teams played last season in a neutral-site match on the campus of George Mason in the Uvaldo Acosta Invitational.  The two teams last played a match at Bren Events Center in 2015. The Anteaters won both of these matches in three games.

The Tigers will make three trips in non-conference play, two of which will be to California. In the opening week of the season, in addition to playing at UC Irvine, Princeton will play an exhibition match at Pepperdine, and conclude the trip with a match at USC. Like Princeton, both Pepperdine and USC made the 2019 NCAA tournament.

The other California trip will be at the end of their Winter Break, with matches at UC San Diego, UCLA, and CSUN. Their Spring Break trip will be to Chicago, where Princeton will play at Lewis before playing matches versus the Loyola and Emmanuel at Gentile Arena. 

Three of Princeton’s 11 non-conference matches will be at home. The Tigers will host UCLA, as well as Grand Canyon, and St. Francis-Brooklyn. 

Off the 2019 team that won both the EIVA regular season title and tournament title, the Tigers lost three starters – middle attacker Billy Andrew, outside attacker Kendall Ratter (All-EIVA Honorable Mention), and libero Corey Short. 

Highlighting the returners is middle attacker/opposite George Huhmann, who was the 2019 EIVA Player of the Year. Huhmann led the Tigers with 0.853 blocks per game, 3.41 kills per game, and a 0.344 attack percentage. Joining Huhmann are All-EIVA First-Teamer outside attacker Parker Dixon, and Second-Teamers setter Joe Kelly and outside attacker Greg Luck. 

Princeton finished the 2019 season with a 18-13 record (13-1 EIVA), losing to Pepperdine in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. The Tigers were unranked for most of the season, but finished tied for No. 12 in the final coaches poll. 

UC Irvine finished the 2019 season with 18-11 record (5-5 Big West), losing to Hawai’i in the Big Big West tournament semifinals. The Anteaters, who were ranked as high as No. 2 in the coaches poll, finished at No. 8 in the final poll. 

For the Anteaters, they lose First-Team All-Big West opposite Karl Apfelbach from last year’s team. Also lost from last year’s team due to graduation are starting setter Dante Chakravorti, outside attacker Aaron Koubi, and libero David Parker.  Middle attacker Austin Wilmot transferred to Pepperdine during the offseason.

UC Irvine coach David Kniffin will rely on returning starters, middle attacker Scott Stadick (2019 All-Big West First-Team) and outside attacker Joel Schneidmiller to lead the team in 2020. Stadick ranked No. 5 nationally with 1.206 blocks per game in 2019, while Schneidmiller ranked No. 5 nationally with 0.535 aces per game. 

In addition to their non-conference schedule, Princeton will play 14 conference matches against EIVA foes. The first five of these matches will be on the road, including two matches in the second weekend of the season at Charleston.

2020 Princeton Schedule

Sunday, Dec. 29 at UC Irvine
Tuesday, Dec. 31 at Pepperdine (Exhibition)
Thursday, Jan. 2 at USC
Monday, Jan. 6 vs. UCLA
Friday, Jan. 10 at Charleston
Saturday, Jan. 11 at Charleston
Tuesday, Jan. 28 at UC San Diego
Thursday, Jan. 30 at UCLA
Saturday, Feb. 1 at CSUN
Friday, Feb. 7 at NJIT
Friday, Feb. 14 at Penn State
Saturday, Feb. 15 at Saint Francis
Saturday, Feb. 22 at George Mason
Friday, Feb. 28 vs. Sacred Heart
Saturday, Feb. 29 vs. Harvard
Friday, March 6 vs. NJIT
Saturday, March 14 vs. Grand Canyon
Wednesday, March 18 at Lewis
Friday, March 20 at Loyola
Saturday, March 21 vs. Emmanuel (Neutral-Site)
Friday, March 27 vs. St. Francis-Brooklyn
Friday, April 3 vs. Saint Francis
Saturday, April 4 vs. Penn State
Saturday, April 11 vs. George Mason
Friday, April 17 at Harvard
Saturday, April 18 at Sacred Heart