The UC-Santa Barbara victory was fun, and the four previous EIVA wins were all important. But you could sense that Saturday's home showdown with league rival Harvard meant something extra, and the Tigers played like it. In their best performance of the season, Princeton ended a four-match skid to the Crimson with a 3-1 win inside a packed Dillon Gym.
Princeton (7-3. 5-2 EIVA) clinched at least a share of second place in the EIVA with a 25-18, 25-22, 14-25, 25-14 win over the Crimson, which fell to 5-3 in the league. Harvard has already shown its ability in the league with a 3-0 home win over Penn State, but Princeton made a statement of its own Saturday afternoon.
The outside combination of Pat Schwagler and Devin Stearns both recorded 15 kills apiece, and Schwagler added five blocks and three aces as Princeton picked up its sixth win in its last seven matches. Princeton also got seven kills, seven blocks and four digs from Michael Dye, who served the Tigers on a critical run during the crucial second set.
Trailing 14-10 at the time, both Dye and Will Siroky (four kills, four blocks, two aces) went up for a block on D.J. White to cut the deficit to three. Dye took over the serve and ran off five straight points to give Princeton a 16-14 edge. Schwagler followed with a pair of service aces of his own to open a four-point lead, and the Tigers carried forward for the 25-22 win.
Harvard showed resolve in the third set and took control, and head coach Sam Shweisky made a tactical move when the set was all but decided. He subbed out most of his lineup to give them a breather, and they showed terrific energy in the fourth. With the set tied at 6-6, Princeton scored 13 of the next 18 points to assume total control and energize a thrilled Dillon crowd, which included an inspired Princeton band.
Princeton will play two more home matches next weekend, starting with a nonleague showdown against Lewis. The Tigers will return to EIVA play Saturday night when they host NJIT at 7 pm. Princeton's last match with the Highlanders ended with the Tigers claiming a thrilling two-point win in the fifth set.