After nearly two weeks since their last home match, the Springfield College Men’s Volleyball team swept through the Stevenson Mustangs 25-18, 25-16, 25-19 in the first semifinal of the Morgan Classic.
Competing as the two-time defending champions of the Morgan Classic, the Pride’s offense hit a scorching hot .530 while holding the Mustang’s to a hitting percentage of .081. Pride head coach Charlie Sullivan was happy with his team’s defensive effort.
“It took a lot of focus, and a lot of discipline from us. I thought our guys did a really nice job.”
The Pride, who were once again ranked number one in the latest AVCA Poll, lived up to the ranking with their performance. The closest things got in the game for Springfield was in the first set when Stevenson’s Landon Shorts delivered a service ace to give Stevenson an 11-10 lead. However, the lead was short lived as the Pride would score the next five points including three kills from reigning ECAC Division Three North Men’s Volleyball Player of the Week Sergio Figueroa Velez. He had seven kills in the first set. The Pride would cruise from there to take set one. The team hit .579 as a team compared to Stevenson who hit just .130.
Springfield, as they have done so often, continued to keep their foot on the gas pedal in the second set, despite the fact that outside hitter Ricardo Padilla Ayala came out with what appeared to be a knee injury. However, the Pride’s depth was showcased as senior Billy De La Espriella came in and was solid with 4 kills and hitting .500.
In the second set, Springfield’s lead was cut down to 8-7. But once again the team was able to stretch the lead out thanks to another 5-0 run capped by a Velez solo block. The Pride’s defense actually improved in the second set holding the Mustangs to a negative hitting percentage of -.038. One of the reasons for the defensive success was libero Eli Irizarry Pares, who credited communication as the key to the defensive effort.
“It all starts with communication and sticking with your plan. Also, in practice if we have good communication it will translate to the next game. It all starts in the first set and we make adjustments as the game goes on.”
The third set, much like the first two, was like clockwork for the Pride. Springfield kept a firm grip on the set thanks in large part to stellar defense and the play of grad student Sean Zuvich. Zuvich had seven kills in the final set and ended with a total of eleven for the match.
Sullivan was happy with the way his offense performed, with six players having at least four kills and setter Mike Neary dishing out 34 assists.
“We’ve been working on our offense and they seem to be getting better.”
With the win, the Pride move to 10-1 on the season
Next up for the Mustangs, they host Harvard in the consolation game at 6 pm, while the Pride get set for a national championship rematch with SUNY New Paltz in the Morgan Classic title game at 8 pm on Saturday.