It didn’t take Daemen long as a new member of the NEC to deliver a marquee non-conference win for the league.
Daemen rallied from a first-game overtime loss to beat the defending EIVA champions Princeton 25-27, 25-19, 25-16, 25-22 in its season opener on Tuesday in Amherst, New York.
This is the first win in the Wildcats’ program history against a team receiving votes in the national coaches poll. It also was the second consecutive year Daemen has defeated Princeton.
Outside attacker Zach Schneider led all players with 17 kills on a .355 attack percentage, including having a game-high six kills in the final game to secure the victory.
Schneider added two aces and was one of five Wildcats with multiple aces. Daemen (1-0, 0-0 NEC) finished with 11 aces – six more aces than Princeton and two aces shy of tying a single-match program record.
Setter Sean Califf in their first start since transferring during the offseason had 38 assists and guided Daemen to out-hit Princeton .267 to .204. In addition, the former Purdue Fort Wayne starter contributed a match-high 10 digs and had five kills.
Along with Schneider, pin-hitter Cameron Milligan contributed 13 kills and outside attacker Billy Wieberg in their first college match had nine kills against Princeton (1-1, 0-0 EIVA).
Outside attacker Ben Harrington in the loss finished with both a team-high 16 kills on a .406 attack percentage and four aces. Harrington, though, was the only Tiger to have at least five kills and hit better than .275.
Daemen following this season-opening home win will now attempt to win its first match against a nationally ranked team as it travels to play No. 4 Penn State on Friday.
The Wildcats are in their first season as an affiliate member to the NEC, which started sponsoring men’s volleyball this year. Daemen previously competed as an independent and reached the IVA Tournament finals last season.