Princeton outside delivers epic fifth-game performance to upset Penn State in EIVA semifinals

Photo courtesy of Princeton athletics

Outside attacker Ben Harrington just could not be stopped late in the match and helped Princeton pull off one of its biggest postseason wins in program history.

Harrington had six kills as part of a 8-2 run to close out the decisive fifth game as the No. 4 seed Princeton upset the No. 1 seed Penn State 25-16, 28-26, 23-25, 17-25, 15-12 in the EIVA Tournament semifinals on Thursday in University Park, Pennsylvania.

The Nittany Lions entered the postseason on a nation-best 19-match winning streak and were undefeated in conference play, including two regular season wins against the Tigers. This is also the second time since 1986 that Penn State has lost an EIVA Tournament match on its home court.

Harrington finished with a match-high 21 kills on a .415 attack percentage in the postseason victory. In addition, the outside attacker had back-to-back kills with the Tigers trailing 9-6 in the fifth game that jump started the team’s comeback win.


Princeton hit more than .400 in all three games it won and out-hit Penn State for the match .319 to .289.

Harrington was one of two Tigers to have more than a .400 attack percentage. Middle attacker Gavin Leising had eight kills on a .429 attack percentage and was serving for part of Princeton’s match-ending run.

Penn State opposite Cal Fisher in the loss finished with a team-high 17 kills and hit .414. Outside attacker Brett Wildman, the EIVA Player of the Year, also had 16 kills against Princeton.

Princeton is making its first postseason appearance since winning the 2019 EIVA championship. The Tigers 2020 season was cut short because of the coronavirus pandemic and the university opted out of the 2021 season that was played in the midst of the pandemic.

Princeton will enter the EIVA Tournament finals against NJIT on a nine-match winning streak that includes a home victory against the Highlanders in March. NJIT swept Harvard in the other semifinal match on Thursday to reach its first EIVA Tournament finals in more than 20 years.

The winner of the EIVA Tournament finals will receive the conference’s automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.

Penn State still has a chance to make the NCAA Tournament as an at-large bid, according to the latest Off the Block bracketology projections. An EIVA school has never received an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.