By Shawn McFarland
Maroon Madness: It was a sea of maroon. No, it was a loud sea of maroon – the loudest that sea had been all season. It was 12:30 on a Friday – far from primetime – but that didn’t stop the Pride faithful from coming out to Blake Arena to support the nation’s top Div. III men’s volleyball team.
The fans came in droves. The jumped, they cheered, they jeered. But most importantly, they supported. As Springfield College freshman Nick Perenick pointed out, that’s what matters most.
“They’re just so awesome,” Perenick said of the men’s volleyball team. “For them to get to this point in the NCAA journey, and for them to host this event, it meant the world to the team. That energy that they have every day leading up to the tournament, it really carried over to the fans today.”
The men’s team made note of the wild fans, and to Perenick, that make each jump, each cheer and each yell more than worth it.
“That’s definitely a huge boost for us,” he said. “Sometimes, fans can get a little disinterested. But that’s not the case with Springfield College men’s volleyball.”
The game plan for Friday was simple: Maroon-out. According to Perenick, the unofficial captain of the fan section, Saturday’s attire will consist of Hawaiian gear.
Time to get tropical, Springfield.
The Extra Mile:
While Stevens and Dominican battled it out for the chance to face Springfield in the semi-finals, they had one particular spectator.
Perched in the top left corner of the bleachers was Springfield men’s volleyball head coach Charlie Sullivan. Clad in a grey Springfield College longlseeve, sweatpants and neon sneakers which stuck out against the light-brown bleachers, Sullivan clicked away at his laptop and scouted his team’s next opponent. An hour removed from defeating Hunter in three sets, Sullivan was back to work.
It’s nothing new for Sullivan. A scout coach for the U.S men’s volleyball team at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, Sullivan stated that he watched every single volleyball game played, and didn’t spend much time doing anything else.
Following his team’s sweep of Hunter, Sullivan joked that there wouldn’t be any trip to the water park following the win.
He wasn’t joking.
Ryan Rocks The National Anthem:
Prior to Springfield’s game against Hunter, the Blake Arena crowd was treated to a tremendous rendition of the National Anthem from Springfield College junior Ben Ryan.
“I was a little nervous, but not because of the crowd size,” Ryan said. “But because of the fact that it’s a NCAA Tournament.”
He added that while he has sang the anthem before at volleyball games, this one is his largest crowd and setting yet.
When his name was announced, the Blake Arena crowd erupted in cheer. For Ryan, that support meant everything.
“That definitely got me pumped,” he said. “They said my name and they went nuts. It felt great to get that support from a home crowd because it makes the experience that much better.”