By Nick Pantages
In front of a boisterous crowd at Blake Arena, the Springfield College men’s volleyball team took home their 23rd win of the season Tuesday night against NYU, sweeping them by scores of 25-21, 25-20, 25-19.
Coming off a surprising loss on the road to MIT, the Pride came into their final home game holding the No. 6 spot in the AVCA Division III Coaches Poll, and needing a win to right the ship heading into the NCAA tournament, which they did.
“We made a lot of mistakes last game, but we were able to correct those mistakes tonight,” said head coach Charlie Sullivan.
It was senior night for the Pride as well, as they honored seniors Jarrett Anderson and Liam York.
“They are the model citizens for our program,” Sullivan said.
Anderson, the reigning National Division III Player of the Year, is one of the best players in the storied history of the Pride. A three-time First-Team All-American, Anderson fittingly set two more school records in his final game at Blake Arena. He broke his own record for service aces in a season with a late one in the second set. Then, consecutive aces in the third set gave Anderson the career record for aces, with 278 over his illustrious career.
York, however, was unable to compete this season due to injury. After being third on the team in kills last season, York was expected to be a big piece of the team as the outside hitter across from Anderson, but a preseason injury put a wrench in those plans. However, York got the chance to act as a coach on Tuesday night.
“He wanted to change his role today. He’s done such a good job with his leadership this year, we couldn’t go without him,” Sullivan said.
When the senior night festivities ended and the match started, NYU came out of the gates flying, as they jumped out to an 8-4 lead, prompting an early timeout from Sullivan.
After a pair of attacking errors by NYU and Springfield kills, Evan Costley gave Springfield the lead for the first time all game with consecutive service aces that ricocheted off the rafters for points.
Later in the set with the score knotted at 19, a Chris Rouleau kill broke the tie, and Costley came up clutch in service again, delivering another powerful ace. On the next point, a gentle serve in the middle of the NYU defense forced an attacking error to give the Pride a three-point edge, and they went on to win the set 25-21.
The story of the second set was the Pride’s dominance of the net area in blocking. The Pride scored three of their first 13 points of the second set, and every block brought a big reaction from the lively bench of the Pride.
“People on the bench are called the game changers,” Sullivan said. “They are either changing the game on the bench with their energy, or they are coming into the match and changing the game. All those guys are very important.”
After an NYU timeout, Anderson, Costley and Noah Weislo combined for nine of the last 12 Springfield points to win the set.
The third and final set was dominated from the start from the Pride. Ryan Roller and Anderson each collected a pair of aces, and Anderson and Weislo had a kill apiece to give the Pride an early 6-1 advantage in the third set.
However, the Violets clawed back into the game with back-to-back blocks on Joel DeCamp and Anderson attempts to cut the Pride’s lead to 12-10.
The two sides exchanged points until the score was 17-15, still in favor of the Pride, when NYU committed a service error followed by consecutive attacking errors. Following a timeout, a bad set and yet another attacking error preceded a DeCamp kill.
This stretch of errors resulted in six straight Springfield points, broadening the lead to 23-15, where all the Pride needed was a Weislo kill and a thunderous Chris Rouleau kill to clinch a win in their final game at Blake Arena on the season.
This game was the final game before the NCAA tournament, where the Pride will presumably make the field and play on April 21.
“We got a lot to do between now and then,” Sullivan said.
Springfield will find out who their foe will be on Monday, April 17, during the NCAA selection show, where Anderson and company hope to win the program’s first national championship since 2018.
Photo: Springfield College Athletics