Despite the absence of two key players--one out with a back injury and the other recovering from pulled wisdom teeth--the Harvard men's volleyball team will take on Princeton today in the last home match of the season which is shaping up to be an Ivy League championship preview.
"Princeton is always a grudge match," middle hitter Mohan Nadkarni said yesterday adding that last year, the Crimson turned the tide by downing the defending champion Tigers to take the Ivy title.
But the 17-6 Crimson has already lost to Princeton once this year "We don't want to go into the Ivy finals having lost to them twice," said Co Captain Terry Martin "We'll have to rely on smart hitting."
Harvard has already won its division title, by defeating division rivals Yale and Springfield.
If the Crimson is to win, it will have to do it without junior middle hitter Jon Ross, a two year All Ivy selection who is out with a pulled back muscle Jon is our tallest player, so it will be tough for us in our blocking Martin said.
Junior Scott Alpert, who will replace Ross in the starting lineup is a full five inches shorter than his classmate. Both Alpert and senior Co-captain David Twite, last year's Ivy MVP, have been plagued with the flu all week.
But last night Alpert insisted, "I'll be over the flu by tomorrow--for the game at least."
In addition to Ross, junior Sean Doyle who plays opposite the setter, had his wisdom teeth pulled yesterday and is not expected to complete.
Despite these setbacks, Coach Ihsan Gurdal says his squad is ready to take on the Tigers.
"Princeton is a tall team, but they're not as agile as we are," Gurdal said. "They will come on strong, since they lost to us in last year's Ivy Championship." This afternoon's game--at 2 p.m. in the IAB gym--will help with the seeding for this year's Ivy League tournament slated for April 29.
"We're a short team, we'll have to make sure we're in position and make up for the lack of height by reacting quickly," said out side spiker Jon Tanaka, adding. "Princeton blocks well, so to beat them we'll have to win the long volleys."
"We haven't really meshed well as a team this year," he added, "but our individual talent has been good."
Individual goals may also play a role in deciding the outcome of the contest. "My task Alpert said," "is to crush the Princeton Tigers."