Springfield, Mass. - April 5, 2017 - In a rematch of last year's NCAA Division III National Championship, the Springfield College men's volleyball team swept visiting New Paltz in Blake Arena on Wednesday night.
Springfield won by the scores of 28-26, 25-21, 25-14.
Ranked the number one team in the nation in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Division III National Coaches Poll for a program-record 12th-straight week, Springfield won its 25th-consecutive match to improve to 25-1. New Paltz, ranked fifth nationally, lost its third-straight match and fell to 22-7.
Luis Garcia Rubio (Bayamon, Puerto Rico) directed Springfield's offense to a .424 hitting percentage as he handed out 29 assists in the win. Sean Zuvich (San Pedro, Calif.) totaled 11 kills, hitting .588, while Luis Vega (Corozal, Puerto Rico) notched 10 kills on 17 errorless attempts. Both Ricardo Padilla Ayala (San Juan, Puerto Rico) and Sergio Figueroa Velez (San Juan, Puerto Rico) each delivered three aces, Joseth Irizarry Feliciano (Adjuntas, Puerto Rico) registered a match-best three blocks, and Eli Irizarry Pares (San Juan, Puerto Rico) recorded a match-high six digs.
New Paltz hit just .139 on the night, with Jake Roessler posting 11 kills and Anthony Bonilla adding 10 kills. Robert Nolan had five digs and Matthew Grace was credited with 28 assists.
Springfield earned a 4-1 lead to start the match after Vega hammered a ball out of the backrow in transition, but the Hawks battled back to take a 14-12 advantage following a Bonilla ace. The Hawks lead would grow to 21-17 when Bonilla converted down the line, but the Pride would even things at 23-all when Garcia Rubio and Irizarry Feliciano combined for a huge stuff. Vega put the hosts back on top with a thunderous backrow kill at 27-26, and out of a New Paltz timeout, the Hawks committed their eight attack error as the Pride completed the rally. Vega totaled six kills for the hosts in set, which overcame nine service errrors.
An ace from Garcia Rubio put the hosts ahead 3-0 to begin the second set, and after the Hawks climbed within 11-10, Springfield put together a 6-2 burst to force the visitors into a timeout. The Pride's lead would grow to as much as 20-14 after a Hawks miscue and Vega crushed a ball in transition for the 25-21 victory. Zuvich paced the Pride with five kills as the hosts hit at a .421 clip.
Figueroa Velez ripped a pair of aces to kick off the third set as the Pride raced out to a 5-0 advantage. Springfield's advantage ballooned to 12-4 when Vega, Irizarry Feliciano, and Zuvich combined for a stuff and another Padilla Ayala ace made it 20-10. The hosts forced New Paltz into 10 attack errors in the frame and Vega sealed the win, blistering a ball cross court for the 25-14 triumph.
Springfield will play its final Division III opponent of the regular season on Saturday when it travels to face MIT for a 2 pm match.