Men's Sports Sports

No. 1 Springfield men’s volleyball wins sixth straight Morgan Classic

By Joe Arruda

The top-ranked Springfield College men’s volleyball team swept Endicott en route to its sixth straight International Volleyball Hall of Fame Morgan Classic title on Saturday night. The Pride collected all of its pent up energy from its five-set semifinal victory over No. 3 Vassar on Friday, and exerted it on the ball from the very beginning of Saturday’s match.

Midway through the first set, junior star Jarrett Anderson took his spot behind the service line after Liam York sent a kill off of a blocker and into the scorer’s table to give the Pride a 10-9 lead. Anderson, who came into the match with nine aces in the four matches he played so far this season, sent his serve to the Endicott back line. Untouched, the ball bounced off the Blake Arena hardwood.

He returned to his spot and did it again. And then one more time. His three identical aces in a row lit up the crowd in Blake. Students and spectators, all wearing white, stood up and jumped around or simply sat happily on the bleachers screaming with excitement.

Springfield held all of the momentum, forcing Endicott head coach George Chapell to call his first timeout of the match. Then, Anderson struck again.

Anderson, a relatively quiet and composed individual off the court, lets his extended left hand act like a stick of dynamite every time it hits the ball. His 11 kills and six aces in the championship game, coupled with his 15 kills and five aces on Friday night, earned him his first Morgan Classic Tournament MVP award.

“It’s amazing,” Anderson said. “I just feed off the crowd. It’s hard to explain, I just try to stay in the zone. Stay focused, just be me and serve aggressive.”

In addition to Anderson’s MVP, Springfield landed two more student-athletes on the All-Tournament Team: graduate students Johjan Mussa Robles and Matt Lilley.

Mussa Robles, who is in his sixth year with the Pride after being granted extra eligibility from the Coronavirus, can add five Morgan Classic championships to his resumé alongside his two national championships.

“I’m just happy we have this group, this core – we’ve been together for three years,” Mussa Robles said. “I’m just happy we were able to win it yesterday and today and just having fun out there.

We came in this year knowing that every game was gonna be a battle, but to just enjoy the moment, have fun and just work for the thrill. And get those moments that COVID took away from us and we’re doing that, we’re having fun out there.”

Mussa Robles, who is consistently diving on the floor with an extended body reaching for the ball as the Pride’s libero, tallied 15 serve receptions and six digs in the championship game. Matt Lilley, in his fifth-year with the Pride, directed the attack to a strong .419 hitting clip on Saturday with 34 assists at the setter position.

Unlike Friday’s match, Springfield held control for three straight sets (25-17, 25-16 and 25-18).

“We’re getting a little better,” Sullivan said. “Cleaned up a little bit tonight with some things which was nice, we have some things to clean up for next week so we’ll see what happens.”

The Morgan Classic momentum will definitely carry over for Springfield, but they look at each match with a clean slate.

“On Monday we’re going into the gym again and we’re getting prepared for our next match. Every match is unique and every match brings different kinds of things so our mindset is that every single game is as important as any other game,” Mussa Robles said.

Springfield will return to Blake Arena three times next week, with the first match being on Thursday against Nichols at 7 p.m. On Saturday, Feb. 12, the Pride will host a tri-match with games against No. 6 Stevens (3 p.m.) and Rivier (7 p.m.).

Photo by Joe Arruda/The Student

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