Three-peat. This is something that is on the mind of the Springfield College community, the national volleyball community and definitely the Springfield College men’s volleyball team as the Division III Tournament gets under way.
The Pride were 24-8 during the regular season. The impressive record was good enough to give the Pride top-seed honors, despite losing two times to fourth-seeded Rivier.
“This season has gone well,” Springfield College coach Charlie Sullivan said. “We have struggled, made mistakes and improved as a result. Guys have made great strides since January, and are playing at a good level.”
The Pride are definitely hitting their stride, as they end their season winning 12 of their last 13 games.
The 10-team tournament kicked off on Saturday, April 19 when Endicott defeated MIT 3-0 and Stevens Institute of Technology defeated Baruch 3-1. Springfield’s first game is this Saturday against Endicott at 12:30 p.m. The game will be in the quarterfinals round and will be held in Huntingdon, Pa. It will be a rematch of a match-up from April 4, which Springfield took easily, 3-0 (25-9, 25-12, 25-13).
In that game Angel Perez lit up the scoreboard, as he produced nine kills, with seven more posted by Ryan Quesenberry. The team as a whole hit an outstanding 42.9 percent.
The Pride may have a target on their back, as they are back-to-back national champions and made a trip to Russia to represent team USA last summer, but this is a completely different team. There are nine first-year players, including eight freshmen and senior outside hitter Ryan Malone, who many know as a great Springfield College soccer player.
“All of the first-year players have learned what it is like to be in a competitive gym everyday,” Sullivan said. “They have all gotten better and been able to contribute to our team. I think they’re ready.”
The Pride freshmen have played well, including Norfolk, Va. native Sean Peterson, who has 66 kills while hitting 39.8 percent. San Pedro, Calif. native Sean Zuvich has also played well, as he leads first-year players with 183 kills on the year.
If first-year woes happen, however, the upperclassmen will be able to back them up, as Springfield College produced four Division III first team All-American honors for the first time in school history.
On the list were seniors Jimmy O’Leary and Nick Ferry, junior Keaton Pieper, and sophomore Luis Vega. Ferry received the award for the second time, while the other players are receiving it for the first time.
The Pride definitely have the experience and talent to three-peat, but it’s definitely easier said than done.
“The preparation for this tournament is no different than previous years,” Ferry said. “The only difference is that we know what we have to do and what to expect.”