Poughkeepsie, N.Y. - February 3, 2018 - The Springfield College men's volleyball team continued its winning ways as it swept Vassar and St. Joseph's (LI) in straight sets at Vassar on Saturday afternoon.
Springfield, which was ranked No. 1 in the latest American Volleyball Association Coaches (AVCA) Division III Poll, has now won nine-straight matches to improve to 9-1.
After playing four matches this week, Springfield will regroup to serve as the host of the International Volleyball Hall of Fame Morgan Classic, which kicks off on Friday night. The Pride will welcome Harvard, New Paltz, and Stevenson to Blake Arena, with Springfield facing Stevenson on Friday at 8 pm.
Springfield 3, Vassar 0 (25-19, 25-14, 25-22)
Sergio Figueroa Velez (San Juan, Puerto Rico) and Sean Zuvich (San Pedro, Calif.) each totaled nine kills in the victory for Springfield, while Ricardo Padilla Ayala (San Juan, Puerto Rico) chipped in eight kills. Eli Gabriel Irizarry Pares (Bayamon, Puerto Rico) produced 25 assists and seven digs as he led the Pride to a .389 hitting percentage. Springfield limited Vassar to a .134 hitting percentage, with Zuvich totaling a team-best four blocks.
In the opening set, Springfield hit at a .500 clip, with six of Springfield's 15 kills coming off the arm of Figueroa Velez. A back-and-forth start would feature nine ties and four lead changes, the last coming at 13-all, before Springfield used a 6-1 surge, capped off by a Jasuta ace, for a 19-14 edge. Vassar would get as close at 20-17, but a 5-2 burst to close out the frame gave Springfield the 25-19 victory.
A combination of Springfield hitting at a .455 rate while holding Vassar to just a .037 hitting percentage in the second set resulted in a 25-14 win. Jasuta teammed with Zuvich for consecutive blocks and then drilled a kill out of the middle to help the visitors earn an early 5-1 lead, only to have Vassar pull within 14-12. However, Springfield produced six-straight points, taking advantage of four Brewer miscues, to have its lead balloon to 20-12. Gabriel Irizarry Pares sealed the win with the Pride's lone ace of the stanza to take a 2-0 lead in the match.
After combining for four attack errors in the first two sets, Springfield had three in the first 10 points of the third set as Vassar took early control with a 7-3 lead. Springfield would slowly chip away before gaining a 12-11 led when Padilla Ayala finished a long rally with a big swing off the block. Vassar would regroup out of a timeout and earn a 15-13 edge on their first ace of the set, but a 6-2 Springfield run, highlighted by a stuff from Zuvich and Joseth Irizarry Feliciano (Adjuntas, Puerto Rico), put Springfield on top 19-17. The teams would be knotted one last time at 20-all, before three-straight Springfield points, including a monster swing from Padilla Ayala in transition, gave the Pride a 23-20 cushion. Vassar would pull within 23-22 on an ace, but another Padilla Ayala kill and Vassar attack error concluded the match.
Springfield 3, St. Joseph's 0 (25-12, 25-22, 25-19)
Kenny Lawrence (Longwood, Fla.) was dominant on the right side for Springfield as he erupted for a career-high 17 kills at a .571 clip. Sergio Figueroa Velez (San Juan, Puerto Rico) added six kills and a team-best seven digs in two sets of action, while Mike Neary (Ventura, Calif.) totaled 33 assists and six digs in pacing the Pride to a .317 hitting percentage. Springfield limited the Golden Eagles to a .031 hitting percentage.
In the opening set, Springfield turned a 6-5 edge into a 17-7 cushion after Neary and Kyle Jasuta (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) combined for a block. The Pride had its best offense performance of the match in the frame, hitting .429 behind a trio of kills each from Lawrence, Jastua, and Billy De La Espriella (Northridge, Calif.).
It was the Golden Eagles who jumped out to a 4-0 lead, only to have the Pride use an 8-3 burst to take their first of the second set following an attack error. St. Joseph's would build a 18-13 cushion thanks to an ace, but Springfield would not go away and scored four-straight points to force St. Joseph's into a timeout following another kill by Figueroa Velez. After the Golden Eagles earned a 22-19 lead, Springfield reeled off the final six points of the set, using consecutive aces from Figueroa Velez in the run for the 25-22 win. Lawrence was dominant in the second set, totaling seven kills on nine errorless attempts in a set where Springfield totaled 16 kills.
The Pride built a 9-4 lead in the third, and despite St. Joseph's pulling within three on six occasions, Springfield used a 6-1 burst after leading 17-14 to gain a 23-15 edge. Springfield would ease its way to the 25-19 victory, with Lawrence accounting for seven of Springfield's 10 kills in the set.