Princeton is in the final six for the first time.
The Tigers, the EIVA champions, won in four sets Thursday night at Barton, winner of Conference Carolinas, and now join the NCAA field that starts Tuesday in Long Beach.
The National Collegiate Men’s Volleyball Championship for Division I-II pits Princeton (18-12) against Pepperdine (22-6), with the winner getting second-seeded Long Beach State (26-2) on Thursday.
The other quarterfinal Tuesday has USC (18-10) facing Lewis (25-5) with the winner getting top-seeded Hawai’i (27-2).
Princeton won at Barton 25-23, 25-21, 18-25, 25-20 before an announced crowd of 575 at the small school in Wilson, N.C. It marked Princeton’s first NCAA tourney victory as George Huhmann led with 19 kills, hitting .424. He added three of the Tigers’ five aces, had three digs and four blocks, two solo.
“We are so excited to head to Long Beach,” Princeton coach Sam Schweisky said.
Kendall Ratter added 11 kills and hit .364 to go with five digs and two blocks. Greg Luck had 10 kills with one error in 18 attacks and hit .500 and had an assist, three digs and a solo block, and Parker Dixon had eight kills, an assist, three digs and two blocks.
Princeton had to regroup after the third set.
“In the third set Barton picked up their service pressure and went on a great service run to break open the set,” Schweisky said. “Thankfully our guys were able to regain composure in the fourth set and push ahead for the victory.”
Princeton, which played a brutal non-conference schedule — it also has losses to UCLA, Ball State, Purdue Fort Wayne, UC Irvine, USC, Lewis and BYU on its resume — opened the season at Pepperdine and lost in foru to the Waves.
Barton, which ended its historic season 25-2, was led as it always was by Greek brothers Angelos and Vasilis Mandilaris. Angelos had 17 kills and hit .342 to go with two of his team’s six aces, six digs and two blocks. Vasilis had 15 kills, hit .345, and added an ace, eight digs and two blocks, one solo. Adrian Iglesias had 10 kills, hit .350, and had an ace, five digs and two blocks, one solo.
“I thought it was a very evenly-matched game,” Barton coach Jeff Lennox said. “They played really steady. They executed well when they needed to. I have a ton of respect for them, their staff and their players. Lot a gratitude for how our guys fought, how we stuck together, how we battled. I thought that we played hard. I thought that we played really, really well, and I’m really proud of our team.”
Barton’s season included an early season victory over USC.
“That was a huge step for us this year. It was really important for our guys to have this self-belief, knowing that they belonged (at this level), knowing that all the hard work they put in meant something. Being able to get some big wins early in the season and put ourselves in a position to host this match really proves that our guys can compete with anybody.”
For championship information (semifinals and final tickets are sold out) at the on-campus Pyramid, go to Long Beach State’s Tournament Central website.