By Daniela Detore
The Springfield College men’s volleyball team is notorious for its offensive finesse as well as menacing attacks, all in all leaving its opponents defeated as the Pride pull away in a dominating fashion. The team hits effortless .400 clips and forces the pressure onto the other team with outstanding frequent 15 block matches.
However, a new side to the men’s volleyball team came out in Blake Arena on Saturday afternoon against Wells in a 3-0 sweep. The Pride usually dominate the net, but we saw domination on the back court. Almost all ten players who touched the court recorded at least one single dig, lead by a career high 11 digs by Johjan Mussa Robles. As well as 10 service aces coming from the back line.
“Defense is really big on our team” said freshman Johjan Mussa Robles. “Coach [Charlie Sullivan] always emphasizes in winning the long rallies and we work hard to win them.” Wells pushed early on in the first, tying the game 8-8 before Sergio Figueroa Velez punishes a ball down the line for the go ahead point ending a long rally, with digs from Neary and Weedon in the effort. Jason Weedon answers by completely tearing the game open with an authoritative ace. From this point on the Pride found their rhythm and the Express could not find the floor in attempt for a point. They close out set one with a 25-15 win and a .455 hitting percentage.
The defense of the team was not the only highlight of the afternoon, but what came from the service line was in addition to the dramatic defense extending short plays into long rallies that left you on the edge of your seat. Set two was immediately in control of the Pride with a 7-0 service run by Figueroa Velez. Out of the ten service aces recorded on the day, four came off the hot hand of Sergio Figueroa Velez – a seemingly reoccurring scenario.
As of February 17th 2017, Figueroa Velez was ranked No.3 in the nation by NCAA for acquiring the most service aces per set amongst all Division III teams. He trailed the leader to the statistic by one single ace. Mastering the top spin serve with an accurate toss, three rhythmic steps followed by an explosive jump and solid contact, only to be tweaked with the cut and turn of the wrist: Sergio Figueroa Velez is set to capture that No.1 spot on the statistic.
Getting hot in the second due to the aid of Figueroa Velez at the service line, the team seemed to have a little extra to prove. Wells placed the pressure on the Pride, the squad finds themselves yet again in a long relentless rally. The Express hit high off the hands forcing the ball behind the end line, two members of the Pride jump in order to extend the rally and force it back into the hands of setter Mike Neary. Falling just short, the ball seems to just miss the finger tips and first of the hopeful players, that was until Mussa Robles found himself sprinting the end line with a dramatic diving save forcing the ball back to the net to run the offense. The play had yet to end until Mussa Robles recorded two more digs in the rally before the ball was exhausted, the point going to the Pride, 17-7. Springfield cruised to the end of the set, closing it out 25-12.
The Pride brought out the brooms in the third for a climatic finish as the teams go neck and neck until the bitter end, finishing 25-18 in favor of Springfield. The 3-0 sweep against the Wells Express was the 7th consecutive sweep the Pride collected in there 12 game win streak.