Tuesday, July 2, 2019

No. 30

It's been a little more than two months since the Princeton men's volleyball team won the EIVB championship and earned a spot in the NCAA tournament.

The Tigers won the league championship match over Penn State three sets to two, taking the fifth set 15-13. The match was held in a packed Dillon Gym, as Princeton had also won the league regular season title, and it was definitely one of the absolute highlights of the 2018-19 athletic year.

The MVP of the tournament was also the league's Player of the Year, Princeton's George Huhmann. Most recently, Huhmann has been playing for the United States team at the FIVB Nation's League, with matches held in Bulgaria.

Huhmann helped the U.S. to two wins in three matches, losing to the host team before beating Serbia and Iran. Huhmann had 18 kills in the three matches.

The U.S. will host the league championships in Chicago next week.

Huhmann's appearance in Bulgaria got TigerBlog to wondering about how many Princeton athletes, or students in general, have traveled this summer. Some, he knows, have competed.

It appears that the taller you are the more likely you are to compete internationally in the summer, since in addition to the 6-11 Huhmann from volleyball, 6-4 Bella Alarie has done so as well.

How many others?

And how many have traveled outside this country for academic, service and other educational ventures - not to mention just to have fun? It has to be a pretty high number.

Princeton prides itself on offering opportunities around the globe. It's great to know that so many take advantage of it at some point during their four years.

Huhmann's gigantic junior year helped put Princeton in the NCAA tournament, where the Tigers won their opener Barton College before falling in five sets to Pepperdine.

The result was more than just a great season for the men's volleyball team. It also gave Princeton 25 points in the Learfield IMG NACDA Directors' Cup.

The final Cup standings were announced at the conclusion of the College World Series, won by Vanderbilt over Michigan in the best-of-three final. Those three games, by the way, were three of the four highest rated ESPN baseball games last week.

Princeton finished the 2018-19 academic year in 30th place in Division I in the Directors' Cup standings. The Cup measures overall athletic success by assigning points based on NCAA championship participation and success.

Princeton finished with 722.50 points, leaving the Tigers as the highest finishing FCS school. The next-best finish by an FCS school was 57th, which happened to be Harvard.

Unlike last year, Princeton was not the top school from a non-Power Five Conference. That would be BYU, who finished one spot ahead of Princeton in 29th.

The 28 schools ahead of BYU and Princeton all were from the Power Five, with eight from the SEC, seven from the Pac 12, six from the ACC, five from the Big Ten and two from the Big 12.

Princeton improved by 10 spots from last year's 40th place finish. The best Princeton has ever done has been 21st, in the 2001-02 academic year.

The 30th place finish this year was the best Princeton has had since that 21st place.

Historically, Princeton has been the top finishing Ivy League team 23 times in 26 years. Princeton has been in the top 50 in 22 of those years, never finishing higher than 63rd, and has now been in the top 40 17 times.

It's a remarkable run of sustained excellence. The best part is that this success hasn't been the result of simply a handful of sports but instead has been spread throughout the athletic program. In fact, every eligible sport has contributed points at one time or another.

By the way, there are 65 Power Five Conference schools. If 28 of them finished ahead of Princeton, that means that 37 others finished behind Princeton.

That's perhaps the most impressive part of the whole thing.

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