It will be the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds facing off for the EIVA title and an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament on Saturday after Harvard and Princeton both pulled off upsets in Thursday’s semifinals to set up an all-Ivy League and underdog final.
Harvard will be making its second EIVA Finals appearance in program history after outlasting No. 18 Penn State in five sets on Thursday. Princeton is seeking its first EIVA title since 1998, after knocking off top seeded and No. 16 ranked George Mason in four sets.
Harvard (RV) def. #18 Penn State 3-2 (25-18, 21-25, 25-19, 18-25, 15-11)
- Harvard moves to 12-13; Penn State falls to 15-11
- Fairfax, Virginia
- Box Score
- Harvard Recap / Penn State Recap
- Harvard advances to EIVA Final vs. Princeton on Saturday
Key Stats: Harvard edged the Nittany Lions .289 to .283 in hitting efficiency, including a .389 to .176 advantage in the decisive fifth set. The Crimson also won the service battle, 9-6 in aces. Penn State outdid Harvard in kills (66-51) and blocks (15.5 to 13). The Nittany Lions hit nearly .400 or better in the two sets they won, but did not manage an effort over .200 in the remaining three stanzas. PSU gave away 25 points on hitting errors and 18 on service errors.
Stat Leaders: Senior middle Brad Gretsch (14), junior middle Trevor Dow (11) and senior middle Riley Moore led a balanced offensive attack for the Crimson, posting double-digit kills while also hitting at a .400 or better clip. Senior setter Marko Kostich and sophomore outside Erik Johnsson also aided the Harvard attack with seven kills apiece. Dow hit at an errorless .647 clip (11-0-17) and put up a match-high seven blocks, while Moore hit .625 and chipped in six stuffs. Kostich also turned in a double-double with 22 assists and 10 digs to go with four blocks and two aces. Setter Sophomore setter Matthew Ctvrtlik also managed a double-double with 28 assists and 10 digs as well as a team-leading three aces.
Redshirt sophomore opposite Calvin Mende racked up a match-high 28 putaways, while hitting at a .415 clip and putting up three blocks. Redshirt junior outside Matthew McLaren (12) and redshirt senior middle Kevin Gear (10) followed offensively, while each posting a team-high four blocks. McLaren finished off his first career double-double with 12 digs and served up three of the team’s six aces, while redshirt sophomore setter Luke Braswell added two perfect serves.
It Was Over When: Harvard scored the first three points of Set 5 with two Moore putaways and a Kostich ace, but soon trailed 5-4 as Mende notched two kills. The Crimson turned the tables with seven of the next 10 points. Gretsch downed three kills and Dow added two as Harvard surged ahead 11-8 forcing PSU to call timeout. Leading by just two at 12-10, the Crimson closed out the upset with three of the final four points. A block by Moore and Johnsson and a kill by Gretsch gave Harvard its first match-point try at 14-10. Mende notched his 28th kill to keep the set going, but a PSU hitting error ended the night.
Princeton (RV) def. #16 George Mason 3-1 (25-17, 22-25, 25-23, 25-20)
- Princeton moves to 12-15; George Mason falls to 17-12
- Fairfax, Virginia
- Box Score
- Princeton Recap / George Mason Recap
- Princeton advances to EIVA Final vs. Harvard on Saturday
Key Stats: Princeton racked up 16 blocks and outhit the Patriots .327 to .165, including a .480 to .185 advantage in the final stanza. George Mason stumbled out of the gate, hitting .065 in Set 1 and hit over .200 in just one set (.290 in a Set 2 victory). The Tigers stifled GMU with a 16-11 lead in blocks and 2-1 edge in aces. Both teams chalked up 51 kills.
Stat Leaders: Sophomore outside Greg Luck downed 18 kills, his most since posting 21 on Jan. 5, while sophomore opposite George Huhmann notched his 16th straight double-digit effort with 15 putaways for the Tigers. Senior middle Junior Oboh added eight kills and a team-leading nine blocks, while Sophomore outside Parker Dixon chipped in seven putaways, eight stuffs and seven digs. Huhmann and Oboh each served up an ace.
Redshirt senior outside Christian Malias (13) and junior outside Kyle Barnes (10) led the way for the Patriot offense with double-digit efforts, but neither hit better than .129 in the match. Redshirt freshman middle Jack Reese and sophomore middle Bryce Gatling followed with seven kills apiece, each hitting over .400. Gatling also managed a team-best six blocks, while Reese put up five stuffs. Senior setter Brian Negron served up the team’s lone ace and added four blocks, eight digs and 41 assists.
It Was Over When: Princeton raced out to an 8-4 lead in Set 4 as four players notched kills and the team managed three blocks, two by Dixon and Oboh. George Mason got within two five times, last at 13-11, but could not break through. Four Luck putaways boosted the Tiger lead to 17-13. Later, Princeton put together a 4-0 run to turn a 20-17 lead into a match-point try at 24-17. Luck again led the rally with two kills and a block. The Patriots would not give up without a fight, thwarting three match-point efforts with a Barnes kill and a kill and a block by Negron. The Tigers called timeout and got help from a Malias hitting error out of the break to clinch the 25-20 win and the upset.