Princeton Wins EIVA Championship, Books its Trip to NCAA Tournament

Story posted April 24, 2022 in CommRadio, Sports by Kyle Schmidt

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa - Princeton shut down NJIT late to win the EIVA championship.

Princeton’s magical tournament run will finish hoisting the trophy high in Rec Hall. The Tigers rallied late after falling in the first set, winning the next three sets.

Princeton was led by sophomore Ben Harrington. Harrington arguably had his best performance when it mattered most. putting up a tournament high 24 kills.

“Ben helps,” said coach Sam Shweisky. “24 kills and .476 [attacking percentage], those are good numbers”

Harrington was an All-EIVA First Team member and was a huge part of the Tigers late season success.

The Tigers struggled early this season, starting 5-12. This championship win is the 10th-straight for Princeton.

“I love this team so much,” said outside hitter Jerod Nelson. “You see the adversity we went through at the beginning of the year and to have a nine, ten, 11-match win streak, it’s really special.”

This was the third meeting between the two teams. Both teams picked up 3-1 victories against each other earlier this season.

For NJIT, it was its first EIVA championship match since 1999.  The Highlanders looked well prepared for the game after an impressive win against Harvard on Thursday.

Through the first three sets, both teams were evenly matched. NJIT took the first set 25-23. Princeton was able to take sets 2 and 3 both with a score of 27-25. It was the defense that came alive in the fourth set that pushed the Tigers ahead.

Princeton racked up 15 blocks to NJIT’s eight. Matt Suh contributed nine digs to Princeton’s 37 total.  It was the relentlessness by the blockers and the hustle in the back that opened up the lead for Princeton in the last set.

“I was very proud of Gavin [Leising],” said Schweisky. "A bunch of guys kept finding different ways to add value. I am just so excited, it’s a storybook for me, to have guys come in and out and play important roles.”

NJIT had four players with more than 10 kills. The leader was Julian Meissner with 19 kills. Meissner was shut down for the majority of the fourth set by Princeton's blockers.

The Princeton blocking was led by Gavin Leising with 8. His 6’9” frame toppled over the NJIT spikers. The score was 22-13 which gave Princeton enough insurance to seal the victory 25-17. 

NJIT will be heading home and Princeton will be traveling to California for the NCAA tournament. Princeton will look to continue their hot streak in Los Angeles. 

“It’s an amazing opportunity,” said Niko Gjaja. “This is such a special group of guys. We want to keep building through the regular season then playoffs and now into NCAA.” 

Kyle Schmidt is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email