Springfield College men’s volleyball coach Charlie Sullivan might be missing some hair and fingernails following Wednesday night’s match-up with NYU. However, despite one of their sloppiest matches of the season, the No. 2 Pride were able to outlast the visiting No. 6 Violets in five sets (25-23, 25-22, 21-25, 21-25, 15-12) at Blake Arena.
In a contest filled with unforced errors, service errors and net violations, the Pride (16-5) would squander a two- game lead before hanging on in the decisive finale.
“We better fix them quickly; we have a game in about 20 hours,” said Sullivan. “Fortunately, we did enough to win.”
Fortunate is an understatement, as NYU (12-4) committed even more glaring mistakes, which ultimately did them in. They finished with 53 combined errors to Springfield’s 43. After the first two games, it seemed the Pride were in great position to finish off the three-game sweep.
The Pride got some balanced offense out of the gate, with Alistair Matthews, Angel Perez, and Greg Falcone all leaving their fingerprints on the scoring.
“Everyone played well through game two and then we thought we had it in the bag, so we stopped playing,” said Sullivan.
The Violets went ahead 5-1 early on in the third game before Sullivan, took a timeout to get his teams attention refocused. It seemingly worked, as the Pride rode Falcone’s defense (nine total blocks) and Matthews’ offense (team-high 18 kills) to a 13-12 lead.
“We did a couple of things well tonight. I thought the blocking was good, we limited where they could go offensively and did a good job on the net,” said Sullivan.
NYU fired right back following their own timeout, and after regaining the lead 17-16, never trailed again on their way to winning the game. The teams would alternate leads in the fourth game before a strong push from the Violets’ Taylor Fauntleroy (game-high 28 kills) led to another NYU win.
In the finale, the Pride jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead on the strength of a Matthews’ kill and a Falcone block. The lead grew to 7-3, forcing NYU into a timeout as the crowd began to come alive. The visitors responded, bringing the deficit back to one (9-8).
After a timeout of their own, the Pride got two clutch kills apiece from Mike Pelletier and Perez (16 total) before a NYU service error gave the hosts the nail-biting victory. While the win is a great silver lining for such a sloppy showing, Sullivan knows such play will not suffice in the long run.
“We have an important game tomorrow night and we have to show up and then go from there,” Sullivan said. “We’re definitely going to have to play better than we did tonight, that’s for sure.”
The Pride will travel to Beverley, Mass. for a matchup with Endicott Thursday night. In the teams’ previous meeting on Jan. 27, Springfield posted a 3-0 victory. The Pride will be seeking their fifth consecutive victory, and are 14-1 since the start of February.
Matt Fraser may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org