The EIVA Tournament begins today as just four teams made the cut into the field, setting up for a strong round of a quartet of teams all on the cusp or in the VolleyMob Top 20 Power Rankings. George Mason plays host to the event, as the regular season league champs look to defend their crown in the postseason with an NCAA Tournament bid on the line over the next few days.
|Thursday, April 19
|Semifinal 1: #2 Harvard vs. #3 Penn State
|Semifinal 2: #4 Princeton vs. #1 George Mason
|Saturday, April 21
|Semifinal 1 Winner vs. Semifinal 2 Winner
George Mason Patriots
While there were chances for other teams and several others came close to defeating George Mason, at the end of the day they won the EIVA regular season by three matches. Additionally they get to play host to this event, so they are the clear favorite to win the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. That all comes because they’ve had the best offense during league play to go with one of the top serves and blocks. It’s been tough to take them off their game as they went 6-1 at home against conference opponents. They did stumble down the stretch – for their high standards – as they went to five sets in four of their last six matches; although they won five of six, so take it for what it’s worth. Plain and simple, this team just wins and will look to use that in an elimination scenario coming up.
This seems like a cop out, but when you compare this tournament to other leagues, it’s impossible to peg just one team as a dark horse since things already start in the semifinals as opposed to quarterfinals matches in other leagues. That means you have the top four teams, and when all of them are basically between 16 and 23 in the VolleyMob power rankings, it’s not a stretch to say that any of the four can win this event. Technically that would make Princeton the biggest ‘dark horse’ though since they finished just .500 in EIVA play, but they’ve been hot of late and have played George Mason tight. And if that’s the metric – can you beat George Mason – we know Penn State has done so while Harvard has familiarity from playing the Patriots last week and taking one to five sets.
4-seed/(RV) Princeton (11-15, 7-7) at 1-seed/#16 George Mason (17-11, 13-1)
- Season series: George Mason, 2-0 (GMU 3-0 vs. Princeton; GMU 3-2 at Princeton)
- In both matches against Princeton, George Mason held a sizable advantage in the ace department, winning the stat 17-5 combined. Many of the other numbers were close, but the combination of stronger serving, better serve receive and a more efficient offense was the difference. Even in a match that Princeton pushed GMU to five they were outhit .224 to .372. The Tigers are the top blocking team in the league while the Patriots are the best offense, so that serve for GMU and serve receive for Princeton will likely be the key once again.
3-seed/(RV) Harvard (11-13, 10-4) vs. 2-seed/#18 Penn State (15-10, 10-4)
- Season series: Tied, 1-1 (PSU 3-0 vs. Harvard; Harvard 3-2 vs. PSU)
- Penn State had great serving success in both matches in terms of aces (22 total), but in one their ability to keep Harvard out of system and block led to holding them to a .115 mark. That was also in February when the Crimson were struggling though, and in the most recent meeting on March 31, Harvard hit .370 despite 13 Penn State aces. Maybe the biggest difference besides the offense was Harvard’s block too, that won the battle 11.5 to 4.5 after losing that same stat nine to 5.5 the first go around. With two teams who offensively and defensively very even, it could come down to that block once again.