New Paltz, N.Y. - March 1, 2017 - In a rematch of last year's NCAA Division III National Championship match, the Springfield College men's volleyball team prevailed in a four-set win at SUNY New Paltz on Wednesday night.
Springfield, which was once again ranked No. 1 in the latest American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Division III National Coaches Poll, improved to 17-1 with the win. The setback dropped the third-ranked Hawks to 16-4.
Luis Vega (Corozal, Puerto Rico) led all players with 13 kills while adding five digs and four blocks, while Trevor Mattson (Redlands, Calif.) totaled 10 kills and three blocks. Luis Garcia Rubio (Bayamon, Puerto Rico) totaled 28 assists and nine digs . Eli Irizarry Pares (San Juan, Puerto Rico) tied his career high with 12 digs and Jonathan Rodriguez Lopez (Bayamon, Puerto Rico) posted six blocks.
After committing consecutive attack errors to start the match, Springfield settled down and earned a 7-5 cushion when New Paltz sent back-to-back swings wide. The Pride took a 13-9 lead following a huge block from Mattson and Rodriguez, only to have a three-point surge by the Hawks, capped off by an ace, make it a one-point game. However, a sideout kill from Mattson kickstarted a set-changing 9-0 burst that featured two kills and a block from Vega. Ricardo Padilla Ayala (San Juan, Puerto Rico) gave Springfield set point when he finished cross court in transition, and New Paltz's eighth attack error of the frame allowed the Pride to take the set, 25-17. Springfield hit .500 in the game, with Vega and Padilla each totaling four kills, while the Pride limited New Paltz to a .040 hitting percentage.
The Pride jumped out to an 8-4 cushion to force New Paltz into a timeout early in the second set after Vega blistered an ace. Springfield's lead grew to 18-13 on a kill by Padilla Ayala, but five-straight points from the Hawks, thanks to a pair of Pride attack errors, evened the set. Knotted at 19-all, Springfield scored four-straight points, with a Kyle Jasuta (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) ace putting Springfield in command 23-19. However, New Paltz closed the set on a 6-0 run, getting a block at set point to complete the 25-23 comeback win. Springfield hit -.100 in the set, totaling just four kills.
A back-and-forth start to the third set saw the Pride eventually snag a 12-8 lead when Jasuta put away an overpass. Springfield would later blow the set open with a 5-0 run following an ace from Jasuta at 17-9, and Mattson and Jasuta completed the 25-15 triumph with a stuff on the pin. Springfield totaled nine kills on 12 errorless attempts in the set, while the Hawks were held to a .000 clip.
In the fourth, Vega crushed a ball cross court in transition for a 7-3 Springfield lead, an advantage that would grow to 16-12 following a New Paltz attack error. The Hawks responded with a 4-1 burst to tie things at 17, but out of a Pride timeout, Padilla Ayala ripped a kill off the block and two-straight kills from Mattson forced the Hawks into a timeout of their own. Springfield's lead ballooned to 22-17 after two more attack errors by the hosts, and Jasuta later buried a ball in the middle for match point. The Pride would eventually benefit from New Paltz's 24th service error of the match to complete the 25-20 win.
Springfield will again host a tri-match this Saturday with a pair of teams in the latest AVCA national poll coming to Blake Arena. The Pride will host 7th-ranked Wentworth at 2 pm before taking on Hunter, who is receiving votes, at 6 pm.