It was only three days ago on Saturday night when the No. 2 ranked Springfield College men’s volleyball team fell to No.1 New Paltz St. in a tough five-set match at Blake Arena.
Tonight, the Pride stepped back onto their home court with not only a chance to redeem themselves in front of their fans, but to earn the win for their seniors.
Eric Johnson, Julian Welsh-White, and Greg Woods were all honored before their game against MIT tonight as it was senior night in the Pride’s last home game of the season.
Springfield was able to fight off a very pesky Engineers team (25-20, 25-22, 25-16) and earn the sweep, who were receiving votes nationally.
Woods and junior Luis Vega had 13 kills apiece in order to lead the Springfield attack. The teammates both strongly attribute their success tonight by feeding off each other throughout their time together.
“It all started from practice,” said Vega. “He’s a good guy and I’ve learned a lot from him. He’s positive all the time on the court, he’s very aggressive.”
“He’s (Luis) a guy that always pushes me in practice because I soon as I see him get a kill on the board, “I’m like I need to get one too,” said Woods. “He gets another one, I’ve got to get another one right after. I think it’s that inner competition that pushes us.”
The dangerous combination of Vega and Woods was needed right from the start as the Pride found themselves down 6-2 in the first frame.
Woods earned his first kill which cut the MIT lead to 6-4. The kill led off an eventual 11-7 run in which Vega capped off the run with a block, followed by a kill on the left side, giving the Pride a 15-13 advantage.
The aggressive play from the Engineers carried throughout the second set. As the Pride built up their biggest lead of the match thus far at 17-13, MIT took a timeout and proceeded to rack up four-straight points to tie it up.
Skyler Kaufman had a team-high nine kills for the Engineers while Matt Reilly contributed with six kills and three digs.
Adjustments had to be made for Springfield if they wanted to maintain their lead over a surging Engineer team.
“They (MIT) were playing with fire a little bit,” said head coach Charlie Sullivan. “It was more about things we can control like our communication, our footwork, our positioning.”
At this point in the beginning of the third set, it was no surprise that MIT went right after the Pride. Ricardo Padilla Ayala produced a kill that put Springfield up 8-6. Padilla Ayala finished the match with six kills and a game-high 13 kills.
After Springfield put up their largest lead of the match at 19-12, Luis Garcia Rubio had a monstrous block that sent the Pride bench roaring as Woods and Vega followed it up with kills to cap off the victory.
The sweep for the Pride was not only a good way to gain back momentum before the post-season, but an even better way to celebrate senior night.
“It definitely gets you really amped up,” said Vega. “We got more reasons to show everybody and show the team that you’ve got to go out there and do your best.”
For Woods, it was an amazing feeling for him to come out one last time after a memorable four-years at Blake Arena in a maroon and white jersey.
“It was incredible, being able to see your parents see your last game in your home stadium is really special,” said Woods. “It was really special to perform in front of that crowd for the last time.”