The Springfield College men’s volleyball team showed the Elms College Blazers on Saturday afternoon why they are the No.3 ranked team in the nation. The Pride swept the Blazers in three straight sets (25-14, 25-7, 25-18) at Dana gymnasium.
The Pride had a minor setback in the beginning of the first set as their serving was off to a rough start.
“We definitely came out slow. But we just stayed focused and just do what we had to do,” said junior setter Eric Johnson. “We had to make our serves and we started making them.”
By the end of the match, the Pride overcame the slow start hitting .400 as a team while compiling a season high 15 service aces.
Springfield was down 4-2 in the first set and then went on a 14-4 run to give them the 16-8 lead. Senior Angel Perez had three kills in the first set to help his team have the advantage.
It was the attack on offense for Springfield that never had any issues. The Pride put together 32 kills as a team with Ricardo Padilla earning nine of those kills. Jason Weedon and Joseth Irizarry came off the bench to produce six kills apiece.
Having Eric Johnson set up the offense proved to be crucial towards their success. Johnson put together 28 assists. His drive to compete at the highest level at every set of every game is a key reason for the Pride’s sweep of Elms.
“Eric’s been really competitive this year,” said head coach Charlie Sullivan. “He just keeps on competing it hard and making everyone better around him. So his season has been great so far.”
Springfield turned up their intensity in the second set giving the Blazers no room to breathe.
Johnson continued to set up his hitters like Padilla, Perez, as well as junior Greg Woods who contributed with three kills.
“Fortunately we have a deep roster and guys that from one through four can play really well,” said Sullivan.
The third set introduced a new dimension to the match. The Blazers started to punch back at Springfield making it a lot harder to close out the match.
Despite the Blazers only having six kills throughout all three sets, they managed to have three of them in the final set. Gabriel Reis Levy led the Blazers with three kills and three blocks.
“They competed great, they never gave up, they started blocking a lot more balls,” said Johnson. “We just had to fight through that little phase but we fought through it and finished strong.”
Woods came back into the match with the 15-13 lead and provided the spark that the Pride needed. Serving six straight points including two aces, Woods gave the Pride a more comfortable 21-13 lead to put the winning streak to four games.
Springfield will enjoy the wins they have put together but know they have a lot more work to do in order to improve.
“Were just really trying to be in a perspective what we need to do better,” said Sullivan. “Even though were winning we just want to see what we’re losing at to see where we can get better from there.”