Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXI, No. 48
 
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
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BIG DIG: Princeton University women’ volleyball senior co-captain Jenny McReynolds comes up with the ball in recent action. McReynolds’ work at libero, which saw her average 5.65 digs a game, third-best in the Ivy League, helped spark Princeton to the league title this season. This Friday, McReynolds and the Tigers will open play in the NCAA tournament at St. John’s, facing Delaware with the winner to face the victor of the St. John’s-Long Island University matchup in the second round.

McReynolds’ Senior Campaign Worth the Wait as PU Women’s Volleyball Streaks Into NCAAs

Bill Alden

Jenny McReynolds delayed her senior season on the Princeton University women’s volleyball team, working as an intern for a venture capital firm in San Francisco last year.

While in her native California, though, McReynolds’ thoughts weren’t far from her teammates in New Jersey. “It was difficult in the beginning,” said McReynolds, a native of Del Mar, Calif.

“I missed out on some of the team things, inside jokes and things like that. I kept in touch will all of them so that made my transition easier.”

When McReynolds returned to the Garden State this past August for preseason, she got the sense that her senior year was going to be worth the wait.

“I think we had high expectations,” said McReynolds, a team co-captain and a star libero for the Tigers. “In my eyes, this was our strongest team.”

The senior co-captain’s assessment proved to be correct as Princeton rebounded from a shaky start to win 20 straight matches and becoming the first program in Ivy League history to post a perfect league record.

This Friday, McReynolds and the Tigers will open play in the NCAA tournament at St. John’s, facing Delaware with the winner to face the victor of the St. John’s-Long Island University matchup in the second round.

McReynolds’ faith in the team didn’t waver as the team lost three of its first five matches.

“We knew it was early season and we were just getting the kinks out,” said McReynolds. “It’s different playing in matches than in practice. We began to flow better and better as we played more matches.”

The Tigers got rolling when they had a six-match homestand in late September and early October.

“We had a lot of home matches at the beginning of the season and we gained momentum,” said McReynolds, who helped Princeton post a 21-3 overall record with that unblemished 14-0 mark in league play.

“When we won our first two road matches, I thought this could be a special team. We have been so close to winning the Ivy League in past years but we lost some real heartbreakers. We hadn’t played as well on the road as we should.”

In analyzing Princeton’s success, McReynolds points to the team’s balance. “What’s really neat is our depth,” said McReynolds.

“Each player can be put on the court and we don’t lose anything. It’s a strong team. It has the most heart and drive of any team that I have been on.”

The team’s talent was reflected by the All-Ivy selections as five Tigers were honored. Junior Parker Henritze made first-team All-Ivy and was named the league’s Player of the Year. Juniors Lindsay Ensign and

Bailey Robinson joined Henritze as first-team selection. Sophomore Sheena Donohue was a second-team choice while McReynolds earned honorable mention.

In addition to their talent and intensity, the Tigers have brought a live-for-the-moment attitude that has made them a championship team.

“In the past we looked toward the end result and not necessarily at each match,” said McReynolds.

“We have a maturity and sense of urgency. We have so much fun; we’re all good friends in and off the court.”

The Tigers had a lot of fun in the regular season’s final week as they made history by going undefeated in league play. “It was so exciting we didn’t know it would happen,” recalled McReynolds.

“There was the thought ‘Oh no I hope this isn’t going to be the point where we are going to lose.’ It boiled down to Yale, Brown, and Penn. We had beaten them before so we knew we could beat them. Losing is not an option for this team.”

The Tigers also achieved another bit of history that last week as they helped head coach Glenn Nelson set the all-time wins record at Princeton for any sport as he passed former softball coach Cindy Cohen, who won 559 games in her PU tenure.

“We all feel honored and blessed to have been part of his record,” said McReynolds of the achievement by Nelson, who now has 561 wins.

“We couldn’t be happier for him; it made the season magical. He’s been an integral part of my career.”

Nelson changed the course of McReynolds’ career when he shifted her to libero, a specialized position that can sub in and out of the back row freely but isn’t permitted to hit close to the net.

“I used to be an outside hitter,” said the 5’8 McReynolds, who was third in the Ivy League in digs with 5.65 a game.

“I had to think about digging, passing, and hitting. The libero and the setter are kind of equal to the quarterback, we’re an integral part of each play. I’m just focused on digging and passing; keeping plays alive. I really like it; I’m more comfortable with the position.”

McReynolds has been comfortable with her role as team co-captain. “It feels really cool,” said McReynolds. “I would look at the captain in the huddle. Now when I’m in the huddle, I realize that the others are looking at me. It makes you feel good and want to do your best as a leader.”

This weekend, McReynolds is primed to lead the Tigers to some NCAA glory as Princeton makes its first appearance in the national tournament since 2000 when it fell 3-0 to Nebraska.

“We will have a good week of practice; I know we will be focused,” asserted McReynolds. “We are all so fired up, we have so much momentum. I think that will carry over into the tournament. We will play our hearts out.”

And having waited longer for this moment than any of her teammates, McReynolds figures to be as fired up as anyone on the Princeton squad.

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