The Springfield College men’s volleyball team concluded their 2013 campaign with a commanding record of 29-3, but in a playoff atmosphere, records are erased and statistics are thrown out the window as a new season is at hand.
In the past two years, coach Charlie Sullivan’s club has been impressive in more ways than one. Their 2012 season ended with a National Championship after a 33-5 regular season. And subsequently, this year’s team has been arguably better and fiercer against any competition.
The Pride will start this year’s tournament how they finished in last year’s tournament – on top as the No. 1 seed. Springfield will take on Kean (26-7) in the quarterfinals of the 2013 NCAA Division III National Championship. The Pride took it to Kean in dominating fashion, winning 3-0 in Newark, N.J. on Jan. 26.
“They have played some good competition,” Sullivan said. “Some big wins against Rivier, a top team in our region, and Juniata, a top team in the tournament. They generally move their offense around a bit, and we try to be simpler, and they try to be more intricate. Our blocking will be challenged to track their attackers.”
In a highly competitive field, the Pride’s second go-around in the second-year event will not be a walk in the park. Last year’s clubs like UC Santa Cruz (15-7), Juniata (24-11), Rivier (26-11) and Nazareth (34-1) will join Baurch (33-5) and Stevens Institute (25-8) in the eight-team tournament.
“This field is really solid,” Sullivan said. “Santa Cruz is a great ball control team, really dynamic and physical. Nazareth produces a lot of kills per game and gets a lot of wins. Stevens is a great team that challenged us going to five games. The field is very strong this year. Stronger than last year.”
Springfield’s run for another championship will be in the hands of their eight seniors, including outside hitters Mike Pelletier, who received AVCA All-American honors, Evan Acanfora and Brendon McGourn, middle blockers Greg Falcone, who also was honored, and Mike Freytag, along with opposite hitters Alistair Matthews and John Coen, and setter Mike Becker.
“Winning again would be a fantastic way to send all our seniors out,” Pelletier added. “All our hard work over the last four years has led up to this for us, and it’s all about effort. We keep working the way we’ve been doing and everything will pay off.”
The Pride as a whole will begin the journey to retain their crown against Kean on Friday, April 26 at 12:30 p.m. in Rochester, N.Y. Go to the Springfield College’s athletics page to see live coverage of the tournament all throughout the weekend.