By Daniela Detore
An entire sport encompassed into a box with a length of 59 feet and a width of 29.5 feet, divided in half for thirty square feet to each side. The best attributes of the world’s favorite sports combined into one; a net, a court, antennas resembling goal posts, featuring long rallies like tennis and a crowd as dedicated as hockey. Height defines the sport, power distinguishes it, and speed makes it unique.
Volleyball, a sport to leave you on the edge of your seat.
Twenty-five point sets can be won in as little as 15 minutes. A five set thriller match can be won in over two hours. Of all the range in time it takes to walk away victorious, the six athletes on the court may only come in contact with the ball for a total of thirty seconds throughout a two hour match. Of those thirty seconds, there is one player who will make contact with the ball on an average of 12-18 seconds. Time stands still in the milliseconds the ball is in the hands of Luis Garcia Rubio.
On Friday, the Springfield College men’s volleyball team took on the Baruch Bearcats. Heading into the match, the Pride was rolling in hot with a record of 22-1. Despite their record, the Bearcats (7-13) held the Pride on their home court to an 8-8 score early in the first set. However, Baruch soon learned of the authority Springfield has on their home court.
Baruch was desperate to keep the ball alive gives Springfield their first free-ball of the game.
Eli Irizarry Pares got down low for the service reception. Using his hands he guided the hard topspin serve of Baruch’s Steven Lopez to the net where Luis Garcia Rubio awaited.
The ball, flying high off the hands of Irizarry Pares, seemed to reach its peak. At this point the execution of the notorious Springfield offense began. From the end line, Ricardo Padilla Ayala rhythmically began his approach, while Luis Vega on the outside strode in pace with Padilla Ayala from the outside. Trevor Mattson was the third to trail. Garcia Rubio rose up to receive the ball, and Jonathan Rodriguez Lopez rose with him. Four options, two All-American’s and a collective effort adding to a .425 hitting percentage on the night. Who would finish off the play?
“It begins with trust,” claimed Garcia Rubio.
Hitting .571 on the night, Vega tore set one open after establishing his connection with teammate Garcia Rubio. Vega returned to the Mecca for the first time since being named National DIII Player of the Week, and made his presence known. The senior led the team in kills with 14, in a 3-0 sweep over the Baruch Bearcats.
The Pride closed out set one, with a 25-19 win.
A kill out of the middle in transition from Joseth Irizarry Feliciano got set two rolling for the Pride. Irizarry Feliciano would collect a team high four blocks, while also adding three kills to his stat line. Set two was where the Pride began to make it look effortless, as Springfield closed out set two, 25-14. As a team, the men hit an astonishing .600 percent in set two, 10 of those kills coming off the high flying arms of Vega.
“[We] just keep on focusing on hitting our goals,” said Vega.
The third and final set of the night was dominated from the service line.
Coming off of an ankle injury, Figueroa Velez collected three service aces within a five point run.
“It’s amazing that I can come back and give even more for my teammates,” Figueroa Velez said. “I have confidence when I get into the game, [and] I want to be prepared for the rest of the season.”
Vega scored the match point for Springfield in set three for the knockout punch. Taking the third 25-17, Springfield did not miss a single stride.
The Pride will close out the month next Friday, in a match against Rivier before heading full throttle, into April volleyball.