By Daniel Detore
The Springfield College Pride had a successful first semester with an ECAC championship by women’s soccer, men’s soccer bringing home the NEWMAC championship, women’s volleyball with another appearance in the sweet sixteen of the NCAA tournament, as well as stellar performances by field hockey and cross country. To close out an already triumphant semester, men’s basketball had a huge takedown over No. 1 ranked Amherst College.
The tone has been set by the fall and winter sports here at Springfield College. Who better to respond and rise to the challenge than the 2016 National Champion Runner-ups and hosts of the 2017 NCAA National Championship? Thats right, No. 1 ranked Springfield College men’s volleyball is in route to bring it home this year…Literally.
The men’s volleyball team will host the annual International Volleyball Hall of Fame Morgan Classic Invitational this weekend (Feb. 3-4) to honor Springfield College alumni William G. Morgan, the “Father of Volleyball.” The Classic was first traditionalized in 1988, and soon after, it found its home in Springfield in 1990. Since then, Springfield College men’s volleyball has hosted the honorary classic as its home opener each season here in Blake Arena.
Sophomore Jonathan Rodriguez of the men’s volleyball team reflected upon his experience of his first Classic in the Mecca and considered his experience “tradition, and that’s what makes it [The Morgan Classic] so special”.
The tournament has seen some of the most respected programs in the nation, such as Loyola University, Penn State, and Harvard University. Teams have also traveled great distances all to honor the game of volleyball, such as University of Puerto Rico and University of California Santa Cruz. Legacy and history come together to allow the Springfield community to celebrate the love for the sport.
Senior, and leader to the Pride, Shaun Ermi claims the Morgan Classic to be “a great atmosphere to be apart of,” and later expressed “I’m fortunate to have ever been able to wear a Springfield College uniform and play under Coach Sullivan. It has changed me.”
Last year the Pride won the gold after a five set championship thriller against the Harvard Crimson. This was the second Morgan Classic title in school history that Springfield has captured. From that point, the Pride dominated their season making it to the NCAA National Championship for the seventh consecutive year. However, the Pride have some unfinished business they plan to take care of.
Senior Luis Garcia Rubio, the glue to the Pride’s success, stated, “we are really hungry this year.” Falling short in the NCAA National Championship two years in a row seems to be a common source of motivation throughout the squad. The men are eager to protect this house and want to prove it.
Reopening old wounds to the upset in the 2016 National Championship against SUNY New Paltz, the Pride began their season with a 3-2 loss to Hope International on Jan. 13, when the squad traveled cross country to California to test their limits.
Luis Vega, a senior and three-time All-American, shared some insight on the loss. “We as a team became tougher and have been working even harder.”
The Pride responded with a six-game win streak heading into the Morgan Classic. However, they are not done – redemption season begins in the Mecca this weekend.
To kick off the 2017 Morgan Classic there will be a 6 p.m. match in Blake Arena on Friday between NYU and Vassar College. Following the match will be the Pride’s home opener at 8 p.m. where they are set to play Kean State University. The excitement doesn’t stop there. Saturday is championship day. A consolation match will be played at 6 p.m. followed by the championship at 8 p.m.
Men’s volleyball is excited to share their home opener with the community as well as honor William G. Morgan in the annual Morgan Classic. They’re ready to bleed maroon and return to the Mecca.