Ryan Matlack/The Student
Assistant Sports Editor
It is rare in any sport to win a championship at any level. Some athletes can go through their entire high school, college and professional careers without even appearing in a championship game. This, however, is not the case for the juniors on the Springfield College men’s volleyball team.
When this group of players arrived on campus in the fall of 2009, they were joining a team that had won a championship just two years before and was full of experienced and talented upperclassmen. Several players earned All-American honors that year, and the Pride won their seventh Molten Division III National Championship.
Now those freshmen, led by Mike Becker, Greg Falcone and Mike Pelletier, are juniors and the leaders of the No. 2 team in Division III.
“We had some great seniors when we were freshmen,” said Falcone. “We filled in some lesser roles and now we’re just trying to fill the void they left for us.”
Falcone was a key member of the national championship squad, setting the school’s single-season record with 188 total blocks.
Coach Charlie Sullivan shares a slightly different belief, saying that these players do not need to change anything from what they did freshman year. Sullivan does not name team captains, believing that every player has leadership responsibilities.
Becker, who took on the setting responsibilities from Eric Shoemaker last season, had the fourth highest single-season assist total in school history with 1,283. He is currently sixth in school history in that category.
“It’s a lot of fun,” says Becker of being the role model. “As much fun as it was freshman year and sophomore year, it’s been more fun this year to replicate that success [from freshman year].”
Pelletier got a lot of experience as the starting libero as a freshman and has moved to the more offensive outside-hitter position. He cites the team’s chemistry, and their chemistry as juniors, to the team’s success.
“We were close coming in as freshmen, but I think we’re closer now,” said Pelletier.
It is that cohesion and lack of a true dominant star that sets this team apart. Pelletier is one of four players on the team with at least 47 kills. Nobody has more than 51.
“Freshman year, we were known for having a few big name guys,” said Falcone. “Now, it’s more of a complete team effort. You never know where the ball is going for a crucial point, and I think that makes us more dangerous.”
The junior trio was at it again on Wednesday night as the Pride ran past No. 5 MIT in straight sets. Pelleteir led the way with 10 kills, while Falcone had six kills and 7 blocks. Becker contributed with five assists in the third set.