The consensus No. 1 Springfield College Pride played host to the No. 11 Vassar College Brewers on Wednesday night in Dana Gym. The matchup resulted in a 3-0 victory for the home side.
Leading the Pride in the contest was senior outside hitter, Billy De La Espriella. As he watched the ball fly over the tape at the top of the net, he timed his jump to the set of freshman Eli Gabrielle Irizarry Pares, and rose into the air and swung his arm. At his peak, his eyes met a familiar face in Vassar setter and former club teammate, Zechariah Lee.
The pair played as a part of Legacy Volleyball club based out of Santa Clarita, Calif almost five years ago.
“I like to say that we kind of helped each other get to where we are,” De La Espriella stated.
After the contest, the two found some time to catch up and reflected on fond memories from their club team.
Lee and his Brewer squad met the Pride for the first time in 2018 on Wednesday and threatened to end the streak of set wins for Springfield which currently sits at 24. Vassar was firing on all cylinders out of the gate owning a lead until the Pride jumped ahead at 21-20 in the first set. The two sides battled until the final point. The Pride won the set, 27-25.
“We needed to communicate better. Once we started doing that it was easier to organize our passing, our defense, and where we were blocking. I think that our communication was the key to this win,” De La Espriella said.
The second frame was the most comfortable set for the Pride, winning 25-16.
In the final set, Vassar opened the scoring just like the previous two sets and stuck with the nation’s top team until a 16-15 scoreline. From there, Springfield entered an 11-3 runs to cap the night with another victory.
De La Espriella led the Pride with nine kills on 16 attempts. In addition to his attack line, he added one assist, one dig and two blocks to the box score.
“I get a lot of fuel from the guys around me on the court. We try to make sure that everyone who is on the court and off the court is very involved and high energy, so when anyone is needed we’re all ready to go,” De La Espriella added.
On the other side of the net, Lee reached 21 assists and three aces in the contest.
“Playing against the No. 1 team is a great experience no matter what the outcome is,” Lee said. You see on the other side of the net what kind of level they’re playing at. What is expected of our team as another ranked opponent to see how we can match up against them and what level we need to [reach].”
Now 14-1 on the season, Springfield owns the best hitting percentage in the nation at .376. They will host unranked Sage and Rivier in a tri-match on Saturday, Feb. 24.