Story Courtesy of Princeton
FAIRFAX, Va. - The story of the 2018 Princeton men's volleyball season was one of resilience and character, so it should be no surprise that the final chapter held the same themes. The Tigers may not have enjoyed this particular conclusion, but it shouldn't take away from the pride from every step of the journey that led them back to the EIVA championship match.
Princeton's dream of winning its second EIVA title 20 years after the historic 1998 run fell just short in the RAC Gym at George Mason, as Harvard used a strong start and some timely late hitting to post a 25-20, 26-24, 17-25, 25-23 victory in a thrilling, tense final.
How close was this final? Harvard won 93 points over four sets, while Princeton won 92. Harvard had a 61-60 edge in kills, a 58-57 edge in assists and a 38-36 edge in digs. Princeton had one more service ace and two fewer service errors.
"I'm so proud of the way we competed tonight, and the way we played all season," head coach Sam Shweisky said. "I'm proud of the way the guys represented Princeton throughout the year, and we came tonight and competed well. We had great leadership from the seniors, but you don't make this kind of run without contributions from the whole roster. Our guys are disappointed, but they should hold their heads high. We'll get better from this experience. Congratulations to Brian Baise and Harvard on a great match tonight, and I wish them well in representing the EIVA in the NCAAs."
Outside of a brief run in the first set, the Tigers played with rhythm and efficiency on offense, especially from its standout players. First-team All-EIVA opposite George Huhmann led all players with 19 kills, and he hit .302 for the match, while sophomore Greg Luck added 14 kills and hit .407. The third member of the Class of 2020, Parker Dixon, added 15 kills and seven digs, and he hit .333, while senior middle and co-captain Junior Oboh had nine kills, two blocks and hit .368.
Harvard, which hit .403 for the match, got back-to-back kills at 24-24 in the second set to open a 2-0 lead. Princeton responded as it has all season, and dominated the third set for the 25-17 win. The Tigers battled back from a 16-12 deficit in the fourth on a pair of errors and a pair of Huhmann kills, and they grabbed a 22-20 lead on a Luck kill. The Crimson had one run left, though, and scored five of the final six points to take the match.
Freshman setter Joe Kelly made an impressive impression league-wide in his first postseason. After leading Princeton to a 3-1 upset of top-seeded George Mason two nights earlier, Kelly had 52 assists and led the Tigers to a .355 offensive efficiency for the match. Junior libero Corry Short, who battled back from midseason injury for a moment like this, had a match-high 11 digs.
Huhmann, Luck and Oboh were all named to the EIVA All-Tournament Team.