By Sam Leventhal
Staff Writer/Photo Editor
In a night that was sparked by fanfare throughout a sea of white and a student in a Crayola crayon box costume who had returned from a recent men’s basketball game, the No. 1 Springfield College men’s volleyball edged out victories in sets one and three, but displayed a dominant fashion in set two to take down No. 8 Kean University in a 3-0 sweep.
Kean began the scoring in set one, but neither team could grasp a rhythm early on, trading point after point. Down 7-6, Springfield put together a string of three points coming from two kills by Sergio Figueroa and a service ace from Luis Garcia Rubio, switching the lead to 9-7 in favor of the Pride. Following a timeout by coach Charlie Sullivan, Springfield turned the ball over immediately. But, with a powerful strike and an ace from senior Luis Vega, the Pride found themselves up 23-21-forcing another Kean timeout. Vega tacked on one more point from behind the line to give the Pride match point before turning the ball back to the Cougars. A final kill from Figueroa finalized a Pride set win.
The Pride were ruthless to start set two, playing at a speed that never let Kean within their sights. Unlike set one, Springfield set a rhythm amounting to an early 15-5 lead. Following their two errors, the Pride began their streak behind the serving efforts of Figueroa, who added two aces in a seven-point span, and a pair of kills from Vega. Kean would only score two more points in the set, giving Springfield a convincing victory of 25-9.
“One of the main things that coach has been telling us is that we need to be fast. So, whenever we played fast and got to play our own game, we couldn’t be touched. Sergio had great runs and that affected everyone, we definitely fed off that,” sophomore Kyle Jasuta said.
The final set showed shades of set one. The match was once again, a back and forth battle until the Cougars created a rhythm of their own, finding a 13-11 lead. The Kean streak was very short lived as Vega and junior Ricardo Padilla Ayala would combine for seven of the next 13 Pride kills to end the night.
“I thought we really identified where we could take advantage of their weaknesses on the passing. So we just went after that and put our full effort into it,” Jasuta added.
Vega finished with a match-high seventeen kills at a .652 clip. Meanwhile, Garcia Rubio added 29 assists and Figueroa accounted for half of the team’s aces to propel the Pride to the championship match.
Springfield will threaten to take the Morgan Classic for a second straight season on Saturday night at eight in Blake Arena. They are matched up against a Vassar team, who is the nation’s number nine, that swept No. 6 New York University on Friday night.
“They [Vassar] plays really well as a team. They have good energy all the time and they’re going to make you beat them,” Sullivan said.