Princeton men’s volleyball downs Barton, 3-1, in opening round of the NCAA Playoffs

Barton’s Vasilis Mandilaris finished with 15 kills in a 3-1 setback to Princeton Thursday at home in the NCAA Playoff opener.  Photo courtesy of Matt Proseus
Barton’s Vasilis Mandilaris finished with 15 kills in a 3-1 setback to Princeton Thursday at home in the NCAA Playoff opener. Photo courtesy of Matt Proseus

WILSON, N.C. – The Barton men's volleyball team (25-5) saw its record-breaking season come to an end with a 3-1 loss to Princeton (18-12) Thursday evening at a packed Wilson Gymnasium in the opening round of the 2019 NCAA Division I-II Men's Volleyball Championship.

The Tigers – who were playing their first postseason match in 21 years – next faces Pepperdine (22-6) on Tuesday, April 30, at the Walter Pyramid in Long Beach, Calif., at 10:30 p.m.  Princeton won by scores of 25-23, 25-21, 18-25 and 25-20.

Princeton was led by George Huhmann (St. Louis, Mo.) – the EIVA Player of the Year – with a match-high 19 kills while Kendall Ratter (Encinitas, Calif.) added 11 kills as the Tigers won their first-ever national postseason contest.  Joe Kelly (El Segundo, Calif.) added 44 assists for Princeton, this year's Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association Regular Season and Tournament Champions.

Barton was led by junior right side hitter Angelos Mandilaris (Chalkida, GREECE) with 17 kills and senior outside hitter Vasilis Mandilaris (Chalkida, GREECE) with 15 kills in addition to eight assists but the Bulldogs saw their 14-match home winning streak come to an end.  Angelos Mandilaris finished with a team-leading 466 kills on the year. 

Barton – which earned a berth to the NCAA playoffs for the second time in three years – received 46 assists from junior setter Oscar Fiorentino (Bayamon, PUERTO RICO).  The Bulldogs were playing their sixth NCAA Division I school on the year.

POSTGAME QUOTES

Princeton Head Coach Sam Shweisky
"First, I want to say thank you to Barton for hosting a tremendous first-round event.  We hosted our conference championships for the first time last week and I understand all the work that goes into it.  It was a top-notch event.  We were treated with great professionalism and courtesy. So that was fantastic."

"The match was great, high-energy. The crowd was respectful and intense. It was a fun match. And the match was incredibly balanced in almost every category. We were happy to be a part of it."

… on George Huhman
"He's a real steady, cool customer. He doesn't get rattled. He just does his thing, in the middle, on the right side, wherever. Thankfully, as the games have gotten bigger and more important, he's been at his best."

… on Barton
"On film, we saw three guys who were just going to go at it. We serve aggressively, but sometimes it doesn't matter. The libero is fantastic, and they passed well enough to get those three players the ball. It was just a break point here or there."

Barton Head Coach Jeff Lennox
"Hats off to Princeton. I thought it was a very evenly-matched game. They played really steady. They executed well when they needed to. I have a ton of respect for them, their staff and their players. Lot a gratitude for how our guys fought, how we stuck together, how we battled. I thought that we played hard. I thought that we played really, really well, and I'm really proud of our team."

"That was a huge step for us this year. It was really important for our guys to have this self-belief, knowing that they belonged (at this level), knowing that all the hard work they put in meant something. Being able to get some big wins early in the season and put ourselves in a position to host this match really proves that our guys can compete with anybody."

... on Barton's third-set run:
"I think it was just dialing in on what we decided we wanted to do in the beginning – where and how we wanted to serve the ball when they have guys in certain zones. I thought we did a much better job of that in the third set. It wasn't a ton of adjustments. It was just dialing into what the game plan was and the guys believing in it."

"I couldn't ask any more of our young guys. They surpassed all expectations. They came in day one and worked really, really hard, never complained. Whatever I ask them to do, they do. That's really big for the future of our program."