Men's Sports Sports

No. 1 Pride men’s volleyball takes down No. 3 Vassar in five-set thriller

By Joe Arruda

A sea of Springfield College supporters dressed in black flooded the Blake Arena bleachers for the first match of the 2022 International Volleyball Hall of Fame Morgan Classic on Friday evening. Top-ranked Springfield completed a comeback victory in five-sets over No. 3 Vassar.

When the chair umpire extended his arm in the direction of the Pride on match point, that crowd erupted.  For most of the match it seemed, Vassar carried all of the momentum. The Brewers were hitting around and through the Springfield block consistently, capitalizing on Pride mistakes and engaging from the bench. But, late in the fourth set, Springfield took it all back.

Senior Brennen Brandow rose up, cocked his right arm back and slammed a ball that shook the floor to give the Pride a 19-16 lead in set four. Eight points later, Jarrett Anderson served up an ace that sent the match to a fifth set with help from the Blake Arena rafters.

Consecutive blocks in the early stages of the fifth set from Liam York, Nate Reynolds and Matt Lilley gave the Pride all of the momentum they needed to finish out the match. With a 12-5 lead, Brandow took the match into his own right hand. After two straight kills, Brandow took his place behind the service line on match point.

Brandow and York each tallied 12 kills for the Pride.

With a packed house on his side Brandow fired a serve that tipped off the top of the net and onto Vassar’s side. The Brewers were unable to return the ball, and Springfield won the match.

“We just learned so much from the first four games that we just wanted to plow all our knowledge at that time, how the match adjusted and what little nuances that we gained from the match, so it was fun,” Springfield Head Coach Charlie Sullivan said on running away with the fifth set.

A freezing rain trickled down outside Blake Arena, but inside Anderson brought the thunder. When Vassar had momentum, Lilley found Anderson whose left arm was hot and he exploded on the ball time and time again, feeding off of the energy from the crowd.

Anderson finished with a match-high 15 kills on a .433 clip.

“Jarrett had an exceptional match,” Sullivan said. “I mean, when a dude is hot like that you just feed him the ball. He was really aggressive. Good for him. Jarrett had a breakout match for the season, he played to his potential which was fantastic.”

That potential is through the roof for the junior who is already a two-time First Team All-American and was named the AVCA Newcomer of the Year in 2020.

In just the second match where the entire Springfield starting lineup was present, the Pride had to rely on grit and tenacity – two things Sullivan is an expert in.

“When we worked hard and we were in sync, we were pretty good,” Sullivan said. “We got a little lackadaisical and then we let them back in a little bit and then they took full advantage and started to gain a lot of momentum, put a lot of pressure on us. So I was happy we were able to rebound from that – it wasn’t easy.”

Springfield will look for its sixth consecutive Morgan Classic title tomorrow at 8 p.m. when it takes on the winner of No. 4 NYU and Endicott. The tournament was cancelled in 2021 due to the pandemic.

Photo by Joe Arruda/The Student

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