With a bid to the NCAA on the line, the Tigers put together a strong performance to sweep Yale in the Ivy League playoffs. Princeton and Yale led the Ancient Eight this season, sharing a piece of the Ivy League title. The tie meant a playoff match in New Haven would determine which side would enter the NCAA. The Tigers clinched their return to the tournament with an emphatic 3-0 victory over the bulldogs.
Despite the strong performance, the Princeton team did not start the match with their usual proficiency. In fact, the Bulldogs pulled ahead early, boasting a 17-7 lead in the first set. It seemed certain the Yale side would take the first set, but the Tigers had other ideas.
Showing the resilience that served them well the past three seasons, Princeton strung together two crucial runs to swing the momentum and put them back into their favor. Sophomore outside hitter Natasha Skov would put the final nail in the coffin with a remarkable kill to put the Tigers up 1-0.
The Princeton team would keep the pressure on Yale the rest of the game, never giving the Bulldogs an opportunity to get back into the game. Sophomore right side hitter and Ivy League Player of the Year Maggie O’Connell spearheaded the Princeton offense with 12 kills. Junior middle blocker Nnenna Ibe added 8 kills, hitting .421. All-Ivy sophomore setter Jessie Harris paced the offense with her 32 assists, helping lead Princeton past the best defense in the Ivy League.
The Tigers also posted a strong effort on the defensive end. Senior libero and co-captain Maddie Huber posted 19 digs in the final Ivy League match of her career while sophomore outside hitter Devon Peterkin added 14 digs to the Princeton effort. Princeton managed to keep Yale’s hitting percentage to just .153 while maintaining a .230 hitting efficiency themselves.
The Tigers, 10-4 in the Ivy League, have plenty to be proud of as they look back in the season. Despite a strong pressure from Yale throughout the season, the Princeton team showed resilience when it mattered most. With the win, the Tigers have qualified for the NCAA tournament for the second time in as many years.
Last season, the Princeton squad faced off against a tough No. 10 BYU team that ultimately defeated the Tigers in three tough fought sets. The Tiger’s next opponent will be announced during the NCAA Selection Show this coming Sunday.