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After a 1–11 start to the season and an 0–4 start to EIVA play, the suggestion that men’s volleyball would make it all the way to the EIVA conference final might have seemed laughable. However, after the fourth-seeded Tigers upset top-seeded George Mason in four sets on Thursday’s semifinal, that’s exactly what happened. Unfortunately for the team, they would fall to Harvard in four sets in a clash of Ivy League rivals, coming up short in their bid to win their first EIVA title in 20 years.

Against George Mason, Princeton got off to a quick start, winning the first set 25–17, but George Mason got even in the second with a 25–22 win. The third set was tightly contested throughout. With the score tied at 22, sophomore middle blocker George Huhmann recorded kills in two of Princeton’s final three points to give the Tigers a 25–23 win and a 2–1 set lead.

Unlike Princeton’s previous meeting with George Mason, in which the Tigers won two of the first three sets before ultimately falling in five, the team was able to close out George Mason in the fourth to secure the victory. Princeton got out to an early 7–3 lead in the set and held on to win the set 25–20, with the match point coming on a George Mason attack error.

Princeton was led by sophomore outside hitter Greg Luck, who contributed 18 kills, and Huhmann, who had 15. Senior middle blocker Junior Oboh added 9 blocks, and freshman setter Joe Kelly had 47 assists.

Princeton was unable to capitalize on its confidence and momentum against Harvard, falling in four sets. The game, however, was much closer than the score might indicate. The team lost the three sets by a combined nine points, losing the second and fourth sets by just two points each.

In the first set, Princeton stuck with Harvard early to keep the set tied at 10, before Harvard pulled away to secure a 25–20 win. Neither team was able to gain a significant lead in the second set. A kill from Princeton’s sophomore outside hitter Parker Dixon tied the score at 24, but Harvard took the next two points to take the set and a 2–0 lead.

With their backs against the wall, Princeton made a serious attempt at a comeback, taking the third set in convincing fashion with a 25–17 win. In the fourth, Princeton fought their way to a 22–20 lead before the Crimson took five out of the final six points to win the set and the match, dashing the Tigers’ hopes and winning the first EIVA championship in Harvard history.

Princeton was led by Huhmann, who notched 19 kills; Dixon added another 15. Huhmann, Luck, and Oboh were named to the EIVA All-Tournament team for their efforts.

Despite the disappointing result in the championship game, this Princeton team has much to be proud about — they salvaged a successful season after a disastrous start. Returning Huhmann, their budding superstar, along with several other talented underclassmen, the team can look forward to a bright future as well.

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