Men's Volleyball Wins International Volleyball Hall of Fame Morgan Classic

Springfield, Mass. - February 2, 2019 - The Springfield College men's volleyball team won the 2019 International Volleyball Hall of Fame Morgan Classic on Saturday night in four sets over Vassar in Blake Arena.  The Pride won by the scores of 25-10, 26-28, 25-12, 25-23.

The Pride, who was ranked No. 1 in the country in the latest AVCA Division III National Coaches Poll, improved to 7-1 on the season  Appearing in its eighth-consecutive Morgan Classic Championship match, this marks the fifth time in the 32-year history of the tournament that Springfield has been crowned the champion. In fact, Springfield has won the last four, including twice over Vassar in 2017 and this year.  The Brewers fall to 4-2 with the loss. 

Tonight's match proved to be a rematch of last year's NCAA Division III Championship Semifinal and Eli Irizarry Pares (Bayamon, Puerto Rico) was named the MVP of the Classic as he totaled 13 digs, 10 kills, and eight assists.  He was joined on the all-tournament team by his brother, Eli Gabriel Irizarry Pares (Bayamon, Puerto Rico), who produced 33 assists, nine digs, eight kills, and five blocks in leading the Pride to a .393 hitting percentage, as well as classmate Mike Neary (Ventura, Calif.), who turned in seven digs, five kills, and three blocks.  Chris Parker (East Northport, N.Y.) contributed nine kills and six blocks, Brennen Brandow (Manorville, N.Y.) registered a team-best 11 kills, and Johjan Mussa Robles (Caguas, Puerto Rico) recorded 10 digs. For the match, Springfield owned a 42-22 advantage in digs and limited the Brewers to a .093 hitting percentage.

In the loss, George Diehl had 11 kills, while both Kevin Ros and Jake Kaplan had 10 kills.  Ros alos chipped in 21 assists and seven digs.

Springfield jumped out to an 8-3 lead after Parker put away an overpass as Vassar whistled for the first timeout of the match. Springfield didn't let up out of the break, using a pair of aces from Eli Gabriel Irizarry Pares sandwiched around a huge block from Parker and Neary which ballooned Springfield's lead to 11-3.  Springfield's advantage would grow to 19-6 when Eli Irizarry Pares muscled a kill through the block and the Brewers 10th attack error of the set gave the Pride the 25-10 win.  

In the second set, back-to-back kills by Eli Gabriel Irizarry Pares allowed Springfield to take an 8-6 lead, but Vassar would score the next three points as the Pride committed consecutive errors to put the visitors back in front.  The teams would trade points before a kill from Neary in transition put the Pride on top, 15-13.  Vassar would respond with a 4-1 push and a kill down the line from Diehl would force the Pride into their first timeout of the evening, trailing 17-16.  Vassar would eventually gain a 24-22 lead on another kill from Diehl, but a kill from Jasuta and a monster block from Eli Gabriel Irizarry Pares and Jasuta would knot the frame at 24 as the Brewers called for a timeout of their own.  Despite later earning a pair of set points, the last coming at 26-25 on a kill from Eli Irizarry Pares, Springfield would fall victim to a late run by Vassar, with Kaplan putting away an overpass for the 28-26 win. All told, the frame featured 21 ties and nine lead changes.

The Pride snagged an early 3-0 lead following a big swing from Eli Gabriel Irizarry Pares and a solo block from Parker pushed Springfield's cushion to 8-3 as Vassar burned a timeout.  A kill in system by Jasuta allowed Springfield to double up Vassar at 14-7 and Brandow blasted a kill off the block to make it 19-9 in favor of the hosts.  Springfield would take thet third set, 25-12, following Parker's fifth kill of the stanza to complete a frame in which the Pride  would put up 17 kills at a remarkable .762 hitting percentage. 

Facing a 4-3 deficit in the fourth, the Pride manufactured a 7-3 push capped off by a solo stuff by Eli Gabriel Irizarry Pares to gain a 10-7 edge.  Neary and Parker would add a block of their own to make it 14-9, and Springfield held a comfortable 20-16 lead after Matt Lilley (Stony Brook, N.Y.) ripped an ace.  However, Vassar made one final push, getting with 23-22.  However, an attack error by the Brewers on the ensuing point gave Springfield match point, and the teams would trade service errors to complete the contest.  The Pride held Vassar to a -.083 hitting percentage in the final game of the night, while four players had at least two kills for the hosts. 

 NYU 3, Marymount 1

In the consolation match of the International Volleyball Hall of Fame Morgan Classic, NYU prevailed over Marymount by the set scores of 25-16, 19-25, 25-21, 25-20.  Alex Li led the Violets with 13 kills, which came at a .429 clip, while Anton Lagochniak, Neil Ferraro, and Evan Lindley all had nine kills.  Matin Bikdeli handed out 35 assists, Lindley totaled a team-best seven digs, and both Ferraro and Tyler Flood had four blocks.  NYU's offense was the difference in the match as they hit at a .354 hitting percentage, while the Saints were held to a .173 percentage.

For Marymount, Sam Safley terminated a match-high 16 kills, Eric Wiles contributed 10 kills, and Joseph Zanelotti delivered 35 assists and nine digs.

All-Classic Team
NYU - Evan Lindley
Marymount - Eric Wiles
Vassar - Kevin Ros
Vassar - George Diehl
Springfield - Mike Neary
Springfield - Eli Gabriel Irizarry Pares
Springfield - Eli Irizarry Pares (MVP)