NJIT Rallies for 3-2 Playoff Win at Princeton in EIVA Quarterfinals

4/19/2008

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Princeton, N.J. - NJIT rallied from a 0-2 deficit in games to win the final three games and defeat Princeton, 3-2, in the quarterfinal round of 2008 Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association Playoff Tournament Saturday night.

Princeton won game one, 30-23, and game two, 30-24, before the Highlanders bounced back with a 30-20 win in game three and then a 30-28 win in game four. NJIT captured the deciding game, 15-9.

NJIT senior Eduardo Welter, a four-year star who has been at the heart of NJIT's men's volleyball revival, was facing the possible end of his stellar career when his team lost the first two games Saturday. But he led the Highlanders with a match-high and personal season-high 24 kills.

Welter's fellow senior Leonardo Paludo, who played his freshman season at Lees-McRae in North Carolina but has played the last three seasons for NJIT, added 18 kills. And the Highlanders' 2008 second-team all-East junior Amobi Armstrong added 12 kills.

Rodrigo Correa finished with 54 assists and Welter and Paludo each notched two service aces. Those two plus classmate Chris Siddayao led the NJIT defense on the floor with nine digs apiece.

NJIT, which had an 18.5-to-11 team blocking advantage, picked up 10 blocks from another senior, Greg Wagner, who had a block solo and nine block assists. Correa added six block assists for the Highlanders.

Princeton, seeded third in the EIVA playoffs, had four players with double-figure kills totals, led by Phillip Rosenburg's 14. Brandon Denham collected 48 assists and Peter Eichler served half of the Tigers' four aces.

Denham's 10 digs were match high and Mike Vincent's six block assists led the Princeton defense at the net.

The win propels the Highlanders into the EIVA playoff semifinals against George Mason, ranked 12th in the nation, on Thursday at 4:30 pm. The semifinal matches and championship match on April 26 will be hosted by Penn State, ranked first in the nation.

NJIT and Princeton had split their two regular season matches this year. NJIT lost at Princeton, 1-3 on March 5 and then defeated the Tigers, 3-2, at home on April 2.

NJIT, which did not qualify for EIVA postseason play from 2001 to 2005, reached the playoffs in 2006 and 2007, but did not win a match. Indeed, the Highlanders were eliminated by Princeton, 3-1, in the 2006 EIVA playoff first round.

This year, the Highlanders got their first postseason win since 2000 on April 16 with a decisive 3-0 home win over Springfield. Now they advance to the semifinals for the first time since 2000 with Saturday's win at Princeton. That semifinal appearance in 2000 came one year after NJIT reached the 1999 finals, where it fell in an airtight loss to perennial EIVA champion Penn State.

The EIVA champion automatically receives one of four berths in the 2008 NCAA Volleyball Championship, to be contested on May 1 and 3 in Irvine, CA.

Article courtesy of NJIT athletics.

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