Springfield and Vassar Advance To International Volleyball Hall of Fame Morgan Classic Championship

Springfield, Mass. - February 3, 2017 - In its first home match of the 2017 campaign, the Springfield College men's volleyball team bested Kean in straight sets on Friday evening in the International Volleyball Hall of Fame Morgan Classic in Blake Arena.

The Pride won by the set scores of 25-22, 25-9, 25-19 and, for the sixth-straight year, advanced to the championship match of the Classic, which is regarded as the premier men's collegiate tournament on the East Coast.  Now in its 30th year, this year's Morgan Classic featured four Division III teams for the first time in its history, and all four programs are ranked in the latest American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Coaches Poll, led by Springfield (No. 1), NYU (No. 6), Kean (No. 8), and Vassar (No. 9).

With the win, Springfield will play Vassar on Saturday in the championship match starting at 8:00 p.m. in Blake Arena.

Luis Vega (Corozal, Puerto Rico) was outstanding for the hosts in the victory, pounding out 17 kills at a remarkable .652 clip to go along with three aces. Sergio Figueroa Velez (San Juan, Puerto Rico) led all players with five aces, and Luis Garcia Rubio (Bayamon, Puerto Rico) totaled 29 assists and five digs in leading Springfield to a .362 hitting percentage on the night.

For the visitors, Steven Zarzycki totaled a team-best six kills while Kevin Barrow and Ian Capp combined for 22 assists as the Cougars hit .125 on the night.  Nick Breslin finished the night with five digs, and Shayron Taylor produced a pair of blocks.

After a back-and-forth start to the match, the Pride took a 9-7 advantage when Garcia Rubio painted the back corner with an ace.  When the Cougars responded with a 4-1 push to regain an 11-10 on an ace by Barrow, the hosts battled back, using a thunderous backrow kill by Vega to force the Cougars into a timeout at 18-15.  Kean would put together a three-point surge, highlighted by a solo stuff from Taylor, to knot the set at 21, only to have Vega answer with a kill and a pair of aces to give Springfield the 24-21 cushion.  Figueroa Velez would seal the 25-22 first-set win with the Pride's 13th kill of the early going as the hosts hit at a .400 clip.

Figueroa Velez got hot from the end line to begin the second set, ripping a pair of early aces to give Springfield a 9-2 lead to start.  The Cougars would get no closer than six and Springfield would coast to a 25-9 win, thanks to a .571 hitting percentage that featured another five kills from Vega.

Springfield burned a timeout trailing 13-11 in the third when Taylor converted out of the middle for the visitors.  However, a 9-3 surge from the hosts, capped off by a block from Garcia Rubio and Kyle Jasuta (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) forced the Cougars into a timeout of their own.  Ricardo Padilla Ayala (San Juan, Puerto Rico) would later blister an ace for match point, and Vega crushed a ball in system for his seventh kill of the set to complete the 25-19 victory. 

No. 9 Vassar 3, No. 6 NYU 0 (25-11, 25-13, 25-15)

The ninth-ranked Vassar College men's volleyball team made quick work of NYU in the opening match of the 2017 International Volleyball Hall of Fame Morgan Classic after a straight-set win over the Violets in the opening match of the 30th annual tournament.

The Brewers hit at an impressive .431 clip, with Zechariah Lee handing out 22 assists to lead the offense.  George Diehl produced seven kills on nine errorless attempts and controlled the net with six blocks, while Yoni Auerbach totaled six kills and five blocks.  Trey Cimorelli led all players with nine digs, and both Christian Lizana and Matthew Knigge delivered three aces apiece.

NYU struggled offensively all night, finishing with a -.068 hitting percentage.  Alex Li paced the Violets with six kills, and Neil Ferraro was credited with a pair of blocks.