By Daniela Detore
On Saturday, the Springfield College men’s volleyball team collected its 10th and 11th consecutive 3-0 sweep over Sage College and Johnson & Wales University.
Playing in their third home double header of the season, it was the afternoon battle that fired up the Pride for the evening game. Game one on the day against Sage College was a neck-and-neck fight through the first set. Springfield trailed at the beginning of the first by two points, until Billy De La Espriella brought the team within one with a clutch two-man block. The three consecutive kills that followed broke the game open and allowed the Pride to push through to a 25-21 win in set one.
Set two unraveled into a slow start, upon the 11th service error of the set. Springfield called for relief with a time out.
“We just readjusted our game plan,” said Springfield head coach Charlie Sullivan regarding the second set. The change in play was simple – the Pride started playing Springfield College styled volleyball. Setter Mike Neary came within seven assists of his career high with 31 on the day, and performed at a .929 hitting percentage. Reinforcing Springfield’s dominance, Neary contributed to the knockout punch via pass kills, and down went Sage in set two, 25-13.
Gathering seven service aces, and hitting .371 on the match, Springfield cruised to the end of the game with a 3-0 sweep of Sage, never letting them back into the contest. The tone set by the 1pm match transpired into the 5pm match against Johnson & Wales, where the entire game was climatic, as the Pride swept their second opponent 3-0, leaving no room for the classic on-the edge-of-your-seat thriller.
Ranking No. 3 in the nation for the highest hitting percentage at .477, and ranking No. 1 for kills per set, senior Luis Vega conquered the night with a .700 hitting percentage, and gathered three of the eight service aces in the second match. Vega has consistently led his team to victory, and influences his teammates to execute consistency.
“We’ve been talking a lot about consistency and that’s what we try to accomplish. We give 100% at practice and what we do in practice reflects what we do in games,” Vega said in reflection to his performance and the team’s 11th consecutive sweep. The contest against Johnson & Wales was the ninth game where Springfield has hit over .400, as it hit at a .424 clip. The Pride held yet another team to a negative hitting percentage.
With a close to flawless record (16-1), Springfield plays just shy of perfection. The team has produced a 16 game win streak and has recorded 11 consecutive sweeps.
Springfield will hit the road, on Wednesday for a 2016 National Championship rematch against New Paltz State.
Heading into the most relevant match of the year, a fine line has been drawn between what is expected from the men’s volleyball team this season, and last season. The Pride are soon to be faced with its greatest challenge yet against New Paltz State.
“We have to come out super strong and set the tone right away,” said Vega. “I’m excited to do what I do, step on the court and stay consistent.”