Springfield, Mass. - February 4, 2017 - The Springfield College men's volleyball team won the 2017 International Volleyball Hall of Fame Morgan Classic Championship on Saturday evening in Blake Arena after a straight-set win over Vassar. The Pride won by the set scores of 25-13, 25-13, 25-19.
The Pride, who was ranked No. 1 in the country in the latest AVCA Division III National Coaches Poll, improved to 8-1 on the season. Playing in its sixth-straight Morgan Classic Championship match, this marks the third time in the 30-year history of the tournament that Springfield has been crowned the champion. The Pride previously claimed the title in in 2016 in five-sets over Harvard and in a three-game sweep of Lees-McRae in 2011.
Vassar, which came into the match ranked ninth in the latest national coaches poll, dropped to 6-5 with the loss.
Luis Vega (Corozal, Puerto Rico) was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Classic as he totaled a match-high 12 kills to go along with eight digs. Teammate Luis Garcia Rubio (Bayamon, Puerto Rico) led the offense to a .388 hitting percentage as he registered 34 assists, five digs, three aces, and two blocks, and Kyle Jasuta (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) converted on all six of his attempts and added a block. Each were named to the All-Tournament Team alongside Vega.
In addition, Trevor Mattson (Redlands, Calif.) was solid on the right side, posting nine kills at a .467 clip, Ricardo Padilla Ayala (San Juan, Puerto Rico) chipped in eight kills, and Eli Irizarry Pares (San Juan, Puerto Rico) led all players with nine digs.
Vassar was held to a .000 hitting percentage in the match, with Yoni Auerbach, Matthew Knigge, and Quinn Rutledge each totaling three kills in the loss. Knigge had a pair of blocks and Zechariah Lee haded out 15 assists. Both Lee and Knigge earned All-Tournament Team honors.
Springfield dictated the tone of the first set from the end line, putting constant pressure on the Brewers, which allowed the hosts to surge out to an 9-2 lead. Mattson hammered his fifth kill of the set in transition to push the Pride's advantage to 22-11 and Springfield would go on to take the set, 25-13. Mattson totaled five kills in the frame for the Pride, which hit at a .435 clip and held the visitors to a -.174 hitting percentage.
A pair of Garcia Rubio aces sandwiched a big swing in transition from Mattson as Springfield wasted little time seizing an 8-2 cushion in the second. Vega would later bring the crowd to its feet after crushing a back row kill to cap off a long rally at 16-8, and a solo stuff from Mattson pushed the advantage to 21-10. Springfield would eventually take the set, 25-13, as Vega posted four kills to pace the attack.
After Tucker Evans (Midlothian, Va.) registered an ace down the middle to give Springfield a 4-1 advantage to start the third, Vassar answered back with a 6-3 burst, getting a triple block from Knigge, Lee, and Rutledge to force the Pride into a timeout. Out of the break, the Pride responded with four-consecutive points, using a transition kill from Jasuta to earn some breathing room at 11-7. The Brewers would get within one three different times, the last at 19-18, before a block from Padilla Ayala and Joseth Irizarry Feliciano (Adjuntas, Puerto Rico) made the visitors call for a timeout down 21-18. Padilla Ayala iced the win, muscling a kill through the block for the 25-19 triumph.