By Joe Arruda
Behind multiple strong performances from All-Americans Brennen Brandow and Jarrett Anderson, the top-ranked Springfield College men’s volleyball team collected two more sweeps on Saturday, the first against No. 3 Stevens and the second against Rivier. Springfield is now 10-0 on the season and has taken down three teams ranked in the top-five of the AVCA Division III Coaches Poll.
In Saturday’s first match, Stevens came into Blake Arena fired up. Their energy carried deep into the first set before the Pride powered itself away at the net. Setter Matt Lilley distributed the ball well to his plethora of hitters, utilizing senior middle Chris Parker and classmate Troy Von Holt in addition to Brandow and Anderson.
Springfield dominated on the attack, hitting at an astronomical .485 clip behind Lilley’s 38 assists. Stevens struggled, however, with a hitting percentage of .056. The same was the case in the second match of the day where the Pride hit at a .473 clip compared to Rivier’s -.083 hitting percentage.
The key to that: Springfield’s preparation.
“It was definitely a prep that we do for every game,” Brandow said. “The team comes prepared every game no matter who’s out there, we just come and try to play our level of volleyball that we know how to play.”
Brandow led the way with a season-high 18 kills in the first match against Stevens and tallied eight in the Rivier match despite a rotation of substitutions near the end. Anderson registered 22 kills in both matches combined.
After all of the work that went into taking down Stevens, Springfield was able to have a bit of fun against Rivier. Smiles plastered across their faces as they swung with intensity, still focused on the fundamentals but clearly having fun while doing so – Springfield looked like a 10-0 team.
“It was a lot of fun,” Brandow said. “We played well, we stayed in our system and we got some (bench) guys in which was great.”
Building off of everything they missed out on the last two seasons because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Springfield has already played four more matches than it did in 2021 and will travel to rival SUNY New Paltz in its next match on Wednesday, Feb. 16. New Paltz knocked the Pride out of the last NCAA tournament that they were able to compete in which was back in 2019.
Brandow said, “Just knowing that this is the last ride for some of us and last year didn’t go how we expected so why not make this year what we want?”
Since the five-set match against Vassar, which is now ranked No. 2 in the AVCA Coaches Poll, the Pride has won four straight via sweep. Springfield will return to Blake Arena on Thursday, Feb. 24
Photo by Joe Arruda/The Student