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No. 1 Men’s Volleyball Edges NJIT, 3-2, Snapping Four-Match Skid

Newark, N,J., – February 10, 2009AJ Nally posted 12 kills and 12 digs as the Springfield College men’s volleyball team grinded out a five-game victory at NJIT in EIVA Tait Conference play on Tuesday evening. Springfield won by the game scores of 30-21, 21-30, 33-31, 25-30, 16-14.

For the Pride, still ranked the top-team in the Division III in the latest Bison/AVCA Division III Men’s Coaches Top 15 Poll, it was their first win in conference play this season as it moved to 5-4 overall, 1-3 in league play. SC had lost its last four matches, including a pair to the top-team in Division I, Penn State. NJIT fell to 3-4, 0-4 EIVA Tait.

In the fifth and deciding game, the Pride scored six of the last eight points for a 16-14 win as it took the five-set victory.

NJIT, which had led the fifth set, 12-10, saw Springfield, come back to claim a 13-12 lead after Andy Sipe and Nally combined for the Pride’s 19th block of the match. However, a Pride service error on the ensuing point knotted the game at 14. But after the Highlanders committed their own service error, Springfield clinched the match on a kill by senior Mark Ribeiro.

Ribeiro finished with 10 kills, while Nally led the Springfield attack with 12 kills. Eric Shoemaker collected 38 assists. Nally also led the Pride’s floor defense with 12 digs, Shoemaker had 10 and Ribeiro had eight.

Springfield, which had a distinct 19-10 advantage in team blocks was led at the net by Sipe’s seven blocks (1 solo, 6 assists). Shoemaker and Cal Palumbo had six blocks apiece.

NJIT had four players with double-figure kills totals, headed by Amobi Armstrong with a match-best 27. Freshman Glen DeMagalhaes added 13 kills, followed by Raphael Mattos (11) and Charles Bell (10). Senior Rodrigo Correa notched 57 assists.

Mattos, the freshman from Brazil, produced a match-best 14 digs, while Chuck Richmond had 11 and De Magalhaes picked up 10.

Robert Thomas tied for match honors with seven blocks and Armstrong added five, but the rest of the NJIT team combined for just three total blocks. On the other hand, nine Springfield players were in on at least one block, helping to explain the Pride’s 19-10 team advantage.

NJIT fired eight service aces to four for the visitors, with Mattos serving three aces and Correa two for the Highlanders.

Both teams committed numerous serving and attack errors, but it was NJIT that was hurt more. The Highlanders had 69 kills to 46 for Springfield, but the Highlanders also committed 41 attack errors to 31 for the visitors.

On serve, NJJT had the aforementioned 8-4 edge in aces, but the Highlanders had 30 service errors, while Springfield had 17. In the end, NJIT’s 23-point deficit in attack and service errors proved extra costly in such a close match.

Tuesday’s match was the first between NJIT and Springfield since the EIVA playoffs last April 16, when the Highlanders ended the Pride’s season, 30-19, 30-23, and 30-15. That playoff win for NJIT came just a few days after Springfield had captured the 2008 Division III national men’s volleyball championship.

Springfield returns to action on Friday night as it hosts the University of California-San Diego, George Mason University, and St. Francis University in the 22nd Annual Volleyball Hall of Fame Morgan Classic at Blake Arena. The Pride and Mason will battle at 8:00 pm while the Red Flash and Tritons will play at 6:00 pm.