Rochester, N.Y. - April 24, 2016 - The Springfield College men's volleyball team finished as the NCAA Division III national runner-up on Sunday afternoon after it was defeated by New Paltz in four sets in Kidera Gymnasium at Nazareth College. Set scores for the Hawks were 25-18, 25-23, 23-25, 26-24.
The Pride, which advanced to the national championship match for the the seventh-straight season and eighth time in the last nine years, closed its season with a 28-4 record. Springfield has captured nine Division III national championships as a men's volleyball program, including winning the previous three NCAA Division III Championships after claiming the crowns in 2012, 2013, and 2014. Since the NCAA's inception of a Division III Championship in 2012, Springfield has appeared in every title contest.
Greg Woods (Middletown, Conn.) and Luis Vega (Corozal, Puerto Rico) were each named to the all-tournament team for their efforts this weekend for Springfield College. Woods finished the afternoon with 19 kills, hitting .400, while Vega produced 13 kills, three aces, and a pair of blocks. Luis Garcia Rubio (Bayamon, Puerto Rico) totaled 42 assists and Eli Irizarry Pares (San Juan, Puerto Rico) tallied a career-best 11 digs.
For New Paltz, Joe Norman registered a match-high 21 kills and Andy Fishman added 17 of his own. Both earned All-Tournament Team honors. Christian Smith directed the Hawk attack to a .291 hitting percentage and was named the Most Outstanding Player after totaling 51 assists and three blocks.
The Pride opened up a 5-2 lead to begin the match, but the Hawks reeled off five-straight points to force head coach Charlie Sullivan into an early timeout trailing 7-5. Sullivan would waste no time burning his second timeout at 10-6 following a backrow kill by Fishman, but back-to-back aces by Vega brought the Pride back within 10-9. New Paltz pushed back to go up, 15-10, on a cross court swing by Norman, and Springfield would get no closer than four as a Christopher Husmann ace sealed the 25-18 win for New Paltz. The Hawks totaled four team blocks and held Springfield to a .080 hitting percentage, with Woods leading the Pride with five kills.
Springfield fell behind 14-11 midway through the second set until a big swing from Ricardo Padilla Ayala (San Juan, Puerto Rico) kick started a 3-0 burst to even things at 14-all. The set would be tied seven more times, the last coming at 23 apiece when Woods crushed a ball down the line. However, a Fishman kill and a Springfield ball handling error gave the Hawks a 25-23 win and 2-0 set lead. Springfield hit .345 in the set, with both Woods and Padilla Ayala notching four kills.
A triple block from Woods, Vega, and Kyle Jasuta (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) put Springfield on top 7-6 in the third set and the Pride maintained a 13-12 lead when Padilla Ayala manufactured a kill off the block. New Paltz answered with a 4-0 burst, only to have a pair of attack errors sandwich a Woods kill to even things at 17-17. The teams would trade points to be tied six more times until Vega crushed a back row kill and Padilla Ayala produced a kill off the block for the 25-23 win. Springfield hit at a .360 clip, with both Padilla Ayala and Woods totaling four kills.
Springfield dug itself an early 5-2 deficit in the fourth, but answered with three-straight points as Padilla Ayala elevated for the solo stuff. Springfield's lead would grow to 18-14 when Vega hammered a ball out of the back row in transition to force the Hawks into a timeout. Out of the break, New Paltz reeled off five-straight points, as it benefited from consecutive under the net calls on Padilla Ayala and back-to-back kills from Norman, to take a 19-18 lead. Woods broke the run with a kill down the line and the teams went back and forth until kills from Norman and Ben Cohen snapped a 24-all tie to give the Hawks their first national title.