By Joe Arruda
The top-ranked Springfield College men’s volleyball team (22-1) swept both matches in Saturday’s Senior Day tri-match, defeating both SUNY Poly and Eastern Nazarene in straight sets. The loudest ovation from the family-filled crowd, though, came when senior Justin Brosnan entered in the third set of match one against SUNY Poly.
Brosnan missed the first 18 games of the season with an injury to his knee after has only played sporadically since.
“It’s been rough, honestly, not my ideal senior season,” Brosnan said. “But it’s exciting.”
Brosnan has “kind of planned out” the way he would go about this season. He received a second cortisone shot that he hopes will push him through to the end of the season.
Hailing from Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., Brosnan’s family hasn’t had the Blake Arena experience on a regular basis, making their appearance on Senior Day all the more special.
“My family getting to be here, it just means the world to be getting back on the court,” Brosnan said. “I just want to be with the guys, that’s all I want.”
In his time injured, Brosnan was never far away from the team. He was the most active person on the sidelines with a clipboard in his hand, he consistently approached the court to give pointers to the team, interacted with the bench and boasted a wide smile the entire time.
“It’s been wicked frustrating for him,” Springfield coach Charlie Sullivan said. “All COVID was just wait, just wait, just wait and then finally when it got a little more normal he’s still got to just wait, just wait. For him to persevere and come through and stick with it – I’ve never seen someone contribute more from the sideline on our team than he has.”
Brosnan added, “I think one of our lift coaches said it best. He said my job has changed on the team but I still have a purpose and I think I accepted a role that was needed to be done and I took it and ran with it.”
Highlighted by All-American Brennen Brandow’s 12 kills and .688 hitting percentage, Springfield swiftly swept the first match against SUNY Poly; 25-20, 25-16, 25-20. Matt Lilley directed the offense to a .317 clip with his 29 assists from the setter position. Brandow led the way from the service line with three aces, while Lilley and first-year Giancarlo Carrion added two a piece.
The Pride returned to the arena for the evening matchup with Eastern Nazarene where Jarrett Anderson set the tone with two straight aces. Springfield fans sang happy birthday before his serve, and the Pride was able to rotate several players in off the bench who don’t typically get much playing time. They beat Eastern Nazarene 25-16, 25-13, 25-18 to improve to 22-1 on the season.
“It was just a good vibe in here, good competition and we got to put some guys on the floor who normally don’t get to play, so a good time overall. Good energy, good fun. We’re in the Mecca playing volleyball – it can’t get much better than that,” Brosnan said.
Springfield is approaching the final stretch of its season, with rival SUNY New Paltz visiting Blake Arena on Wednesday for a 6 p.m. start time.
“They’re rivals, we love that at home. We love getting a good crowd in here and having fun,” Brosnan said. “We still have a lot to do. We have goals that we want to achieve and we still have to play well and get better in the gym every day in practice.
“It’s time to focus up and really get down to business and get kind of nitty gritty because we have some big things hopefully coming up.”
Photo by Joe Arruda