Springfield, Mass. - February 21, 2018 - The Springfield College men's volleyball team held on for a straight-set victory over visiting Vassar College on Wednesday night in Dana Gymnasium. Springfield won by the scores of 27-25, 25-16, 25-19.
The Pride, who was ranked No. 1 in the country in the latest AVCA Division III National Coaches Poll for the 21st-straight week dating back to last season, improved to 14-1 on the season and have now won 14-straight matches, including their last 26 sets. Vassar, which checked in at No. 11 in the national poll this week, dropped to 9-5.
The difference in the match this evening was the Pride's defense as it totaled 44 digs, compared to 22 by the Brewers, as both Eli Irizarry Pares (San Juan, Puerto Rico) and Sergio Figueroa Velez (San Juan, Puerto Rico) each produced 11 digs for the hosts. Billy De La Espriella (Northridge, Calif.) led the offense with nine kills at a .500 clip, Tucker Evans (Midlothian, Va.) and Kyle Jasuta (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) each had three aces, and Eli Gabriel Irizarry Pares (Bayamon, Puerto Rico) totaled 29 assists and seven digs.
For Vassar, Matthew Knigge totaled a match-high 11 kills and Zechariah Lee handed out 21 assists to go along with three aces.
Vassar raced out to a 5-1 lead to start the match as the Pride whistled for an early timeout, but Springfield would battle back to 8-7 thanks to a 5-1 burst that was capped off by a kill from Figueroa Velez that found the back corner. After the Pride went back down 11-8 on their fifth attack error of the stanza, the hosts would earn an 13-12 lead when Joseth Irizarry Feliciano (Adjuntas, Puerto Rico) converted in transition out of the middle. Later facing a 19-17 deficit, an ace down the line from Gabriel Irizarry Pares finshed off a 4-1 spurt that allowed the Pride to take a 21-20 lead. However, Vassar later benefitted from three Springfield miscues to earn set point at 24-21. A service error and kill from Sean Zuvich (San Pedro, Calif.) forced Vassar into a timeout, and Figueroa Velez came up huge with an ace to tie things up at 24. Springfield would eventually take the 27-25 win on a monster block from Jasuta and De La Espriella as Springfield managed to win the set, despite hitting just .034.
Springfield started to get into its offensive rhythm in the second set, seizing an 11-7 lead after Figueroa Velez ripped a ball down the line in transition. The visitors would get no closer than three, and two aces down the stretch from Evans sealed the 25-16 win. The Pride's defense was outstanding, racking up 19 digs in the frame, including five from Gabriel Irizarry Pares.
The third and final set featured 10 ties and five lead changes, as the back-and-forth affair found Vassar leading 16-14 after Knigge buried an overpass. Out of a timeout, De La Espriella manufactured a kill before tough serving from Mike Neary (Ventura, Calif.) allowed the Pride to gain an 18-16 advantage. After Vassar tied things up at 18, Springfield rattled off a 7-1 run to conclude the match, as the Pride hit at a .455 clip in the third set, with De La Espriella and Zuvich combining for eight kills on 12 errorless attempts.
The Pride will wrap up its seven-match homestand on Saturday when its hosts a tri-match with Sage and Rivier beginning at 3:00 pm.