Staff Writer/Photo Editor
A little over a year ago, the Springfield College Men’s Volleyball team traveled to Nazareth, N.Y. with the hopes of bringing a trophy back to the Mecca.
They completed their first challenge against Kean University on April 22, 2016 by winning in three sets. The following day, they were set up to take on Stevenson Institute and sailed to another shutout. Finally, they faced SUNY New Paltz. This match, however, stopped Springfield’s success right in its tracks.
The Pride fell apart in set one hitting at a .080 clip in a 25-18 loss. The men improved in set two losing by just two points. In set three, Springfield was able to shut down New Paltz standout Joe Norman, who had 21 kills in the match, and take a set from the Hawks. In set four, New Paltz called check-mate taking a 26-24 victory and the first ever volleyball championship.
Fast forward to March 1, 2017. The nine-time champion Pride traveled to New Paltz in a rematch of last year’s title game, which resulted in a 3-1 victory. Entering the match, the Pride, had not dropped a set since Jan. 28 in Brooklyn where they defeated New York University 3-1, amounting to 33 consecutive set wins.
With Springfield fans watching from home, the Hawks kept it close in the opening stages of set one. New Paltz, the nation’s No. 3, took the first two points before Springfield jumped in front. At 14 -12, the Hawks began to make a few mental errors. This lasted for a couple more points until New Paltz coach Radu Petrus decided to call a timeout with the Pride lead extending to four. Coming out of the break, Springfield continued to run away, forcing another Hawks timeout at 20-12. Through the rest of set one, the Pride continued to assert their dominance as the nation’s No. 1 team moving on to a 25-17 victory and limiting New Paltz to hitting a clip that was under zero.
Set two proved to be another grudge match until the end. While New Paltz was committing a plethora of mental errors early on in the set, they managed to bring the score back to within one at 23-22. The Hawks gained composure late in the set and two two more points from the Pride, taking a 25-23 victory, making this Springfield’s first set dropped since facing NYU.
At the switch, Springfield came out of the gate ready to start their set streak again. The Pride started the set with a 7-3 lead. The Hawks climbed their way back into the set, but a kill from sophomore Kyle Jasuta gave Springfield a 11-9 lead. The Pride continued to prove why they are at the top at propelled to a 21-12 lead on the hinges of a Luis Vega kill. Coming back from their first set loss in over a month, the Pride took set three by storm with a 25-15 victory on a Trevor Mattson and Jasuta double block.. The Pride dominated the box score in set three hitting at a .750 clip on nine kills and zero errors while limiting the Hawk’s to hitting .000.
In set four, Springfield opened up to their usual lead and New Paltz followed on their tails. Tying the contest at 17, the Hawks looked to take two sets from the Pride in one night but the men in maroon were resilient. Out of a timeout, the Pride went on a roll propelling themselves to a 23-18 lead. The Hawks then took two more points from Springfield before the Pride completed their victory over the 2016 champions with a 12 kill set.
Vega led the Pride with 13 kills in the match and setter Luis Garcia Rubio added 28 assists. Meanwhile, Tucker Evans and Jasuta commanded the service line combining for four of the team’s six aces.
With the victory, the Pride keep their 17-game win streak alive through 18 games played. The men will play again this Saturday in Blake Arena against the nation’s No. 7 Wentworth at 2 pm and Hunter at 6 pm.