Springfield, Mass. - April 20, 2019 - The Springfield College men's volleyball team powered past Rivier in straight sets in the NCAA Division III Championship Quarterfinals on Saturday evening Blake Arena. The Pride won by the scores of 25-13, 25-19, 25-21.
This marks the 10th-straight season that the Pride has advanced to the national semifinals as Springfield will square off with New Paltz on Friday at Kean University in Union, N.J. The Pride, which is the top seed and top-ranked Division III team in the country, improved to 28-2. Rivier, who was ranked 12th in the country, fell to 26-8 as its season came to a close. The two teams split a pair of meetings in the regular season, with Rivier's win over the Pride on February 26 proving to be Springfield's lone Division III setback of the year.
Brennen Brandow (Manorville, N.Y.) was dominant in his debut on the national stage as he registered a match-high 19 kills at a .405 clip to go along with eight digs, three blocks, and three aces. Eli Gabriel Irizarry Pares (Bayamon, Puerto Rico) led the Pride to a .327 hitting percentage with 30 assists, 13 digs, and five blocks, while older brother Eli Irizarry Pares (Bayamon, Puerto Rico) contributed nine digs, eight kills, and eight assists. Johjan Mussa Robles (Caguas, Puerto Rico) notched 10 digs, Kyle Jasuta (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) recorded six kills and six blocks in the middle, and Mike Neary (Ventura, Calif.) added 11 digs and seven kills. Springfield totaled 53 digs and 11.0 team blocks in holding Rivier to a .088 hitting percentage.
For Rivier, David Smith totaled 12 kills, Cam Roth and Jack Normandin each had eight digs, Khaynen Yocca produced four blocks and five kills, and Pedro Campos was credited with 29 assists.
Springfield jumped out to a 9-5 lead in the opening set when Jasuta and Eli Gabriel Irizarry Pares combined for a block on the pin, and Rivier burned their first timeout of the evening following their sixth attack error at 12-7. After the Raiders pulled within 12-10 on a solo block by Smith, Springfield responded with five-straight points, with both Jasuta and Brandow each producing a kill and block to key the surge. The Pride sealed the 25-13 victory with consecutive blocks, including a huge triple block from Eli Irizarry Pares, Chris Parker (East Northport, N.Y.), and Eli Gabriel Irizarry Pares. Defensively, Springfield was outstanding in the opening set, totaling 5.5 team blocks and 19 digs as they held the visitors to a -.067 team hitting percentage.
Rivier gained an 8-6 advantage early in the second when Dashaun Graham bounced a slide, but a 5-1 run by the Pride capped off by a backrow kill from Brandow put the Pride back on top. Springfield would own a 15-13 lead at the techincal timeout when Brandow converted off the block, only to have Rivier respond with three-consecutive points as Springfield called for their first timeout of the night after Smith painted a kill down the line. Out of the break, the Pride poured on a 6-1 surge, with a kill from Jasuta making it 21-17. Rivier's attack went wide at set point as the Pride took the 25-19 set in a frame where Springfield erupted for 18 kills at a .516 clip, led by Brandow would totaled 10 kills on 15 errorless attempts.
In the third, fueled by a pair of aces from Brandow, Springfield reeled off four-straight points to take an 8-5 advantage. After Rivier pulled within 12-11, a 4-1 burst was capped off by a thunderous stuff block by Brandow at 16-12 as the visitors called for a timeout. Springfield would led Rivier get no closer than two points, and after Parker bounced a kill for match point, Brandow, Neary, and Parker combined for a triple block to complete the sweep. Eli Irizarry Pares shouldered the offensive load in the third, notching six kills on eight errorless swings.
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