Springfield, Mass. - February 17, 2016 - The Springfield College men's volleyball team registered a season-best .627 hitting percentage as it swept visiting Emmanuel College on Wednesday night in Blake Arena. The Pride won by the set scores of 25-13, 25-22, 25-23.
The top-ranked in Division III team in the country according to the latest American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) National Coaches Poll, Springfield improves to 14-1 on the season, 11-0 against Division III teams. Emmanuel, which lost to Springfield for the second time this season, dropped to 6-4.
Luis Vega (Corozal, Puerto Rico) totaled a team-best 10 kills, four digs, and two aces while hitting .692 in two sets of action. Greg Woods (Middletown, Conn.) and Ricardo Padilla Ayala (San Juan, Puerto Rico) each totaled seven kills, while Luis Garcia Rubio (Bayamon, Puerto Rico) and Mike Neary (Ventura, Calif.) combined for 39 assists. Eli Irizarry Pares (San Juan, Puerto Rico) was credited with a team-best six digs. Springfield's .627 hitting percentage was the Pride's best performance since it hit .632 in a sweep of Marymount on March 10, 2014.
For the visitors, both Drew Jordan (Braintree, Mass.) and Barrett Wingard (York, Pa.) notched 10 kills as Jorge Rojas (San Juan, Puerto Rico) led the offense to a .294 hitting percentage with 30 assists.
Springfield's offense was dominant in the first frame, producing 15 kills on 20 errorless attempts en route to a sparkling .750 team hitting percentage. Benefiting from four early Saint attack errors, Springfield earned an 9-3 advantage following a kill by Padilla Ayala. The visitors never got closer than five, and Garcia Rubio and Julian Welsh-White (Collingswood, N.J.) sealed the 25-13 with a block on the pin for the hosts. Vega led the way for the Pride with four kills.
Emmanuel opened up a 6-3 lead following a triple block by Julian Hess (Santa Monica, Calif.), Jordan, and Rojas, only to have consecutive aces by Vega knot the set at seven all. The Saints would regain an 11-9 cushion on another block by Wingard and Garrett McGarry (Chicago, Ill.), forcing Springfield into its first timeout of the night. Springfield would answer back, getting an ace from Padilla Ayala to take a 14-13 lead as the Saints called for a timeout of their own. The set featured 11 ties and four lead changes, the last coming at 20-all until Padilla Ayala chipped a kill off the block and then hammered ball in transition to put the Pride 22-20. Vega would later paint the back line for his sixth kill of the set to give the Pride a 25-22 win in a frame in which it totaled 17 kills, hitting .542.
In set three, Springfield's lineup saw plenty of new faces with six new starters. The Saints used three early kills from Wingard to jump out to a 6-2 lead and would eventually take a 10-4 lead. Springfield would begin to mount a rally, forcing a Saint timeout after an ace by Jonathon Rodriguez (Bayamon, Puerto Rico) made it a 13-11 contest. Emmanuel would answer back and open up a 19-15 lead, but the hosts responded with a spirited 6-2 surge to even the set at 21-all as the Saints called for their final timeout. Tied at 23, Springfield's first-year middles came through as kills from Kyle Jasuta (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) and Rodriguez completed the comeback for a 25-23 win. Despite allowing the Saints to total 17 kills at a .387 clip, Springfield's unit was dominant offensivley with 14 kills on 23 errorless attempts for a tremendous .609 percentage in the win.
Springfield will continue play on Saturday when they host Endicott and 8th-ranked Stevenson starting at 3 pm.