The fight was there, but it was not enough. Playing without starting middle Will Siroky, Princeton could not end Penn State's dominance in the EIVA postseason and fell 3-0 to conclude its 2013 season.
Top-seeded Penn State advanced to the EIVA final with a 25-20, 25-17, 25-23 victory over fourth-seeded Princeton. While the Nittany Lions will compete for their 15th straight EIVA championship, Princeton ended its season with a 13-10 record.
The Tigers did not go down without a fight, though. Trailing 2-0 and 17-13 in the third set, Princeton ran off six straight points, including three straight on kills by EIVA points leader Pat Schwagler. A triple block by Schwagler, Cody Kessel and Brad Howard gave Princeton a 19-17 advantage, but Penn State pushed back with three straight points.
"I was proud of the fight we showed tonight, but Penn State earned the win," head coach Sam Shweisky said. "Our guys are hurting right now, but I know the character in this program, and we will come back stronger from this moment."
The teams would side out until Aaron Russell gave Penn State a 24-23 lead with his final of 21 kills. Russell, who hit .704 for the match and added 12 digs, finished the match with a service ace to send Penn State to a Saturday night final against Harvard, which knocked off second-seeded George Mason in a five-set thriller.
Princeton was led by Schwagler, who had 10 kills without an error and hit .500 for the match. Both Kessel and freshman outside Devin Stearns were both effective as well; Stearns had eight kills without an error (.381), while Kessel had six kills and hit .357. Senior Michael Dye, in his final collegiate match, added four kills.
Junior setter Davis Waddell had 28 assists and helped Princeton hit .342, but offense wasn't the issue for Princeton. The Tigers had no answer for the duo of Russell (21-2-27-.704) and Nick Goodell (14-2-28-.429), who combined to record more kills (35) than the entire Princeton squad (32).