By Joe Arruda
The Springfield College men’s volleyball team defeated Johnson and Wales University in Blake Arena on Friday night in straight sets. The win comes as the tenth straight for the Pride, as they remain atop the AVCA national rankings.
Brennen Brandow continued what is developing into another fantastic season with 14 kills on a .524 hitting percentage, and Chris Parker added 10 kills at a .769 clip. First-year Jarrett Anderson continued to impress with 12 kills after a career high 26 in Wednesday’s match against No. 2 Vassar.
Despite a slow start, junior setter Matt Lilley directed the offense to a .442 hitting percentage with 37 assists.
“I think we need some rest right now, we had a really busy week,” Springfield Head Coach Charlie Sullivan said. “We had (two) No. 1 versus No. 2 games in the country within five days and slipped in a game in between there against a No. 8 team in the country so we’ve had four games in seven days. We’re going to need a couple days here to rest the legs, get a little rejuvenated, and then we’ll put a really good plan together for our next week, it’s a big week coming up for us.”
The Wildcats recorded seven blocks at the net while the Pride were only able to muster a single one which came in the middle of the second set from Anderson and Parker. But, the maroon and white were able to excel in other areas of the stat sheet to earn the win.
Highlighted by four aces from Anderson, Springfield combined for 10 as a team coming from five different players.
Before the season, Sullivan emphasized a focus on trust, communication and team cohesiveness. He expressed that it was something last year’s team lacked, and that it is important going into this season.
Midway through the year, the Pride find themselves at No. 1 in the country and with 10 wins in a row under their belt.
“It’s never going to be perfect,” first-year Liam York said about the team’s cohesiveness. “We’ve got to work on it every day in practice, every single game. It’s coming along, it was a little rough in the beginning I’m not going to lie, but as long as we can keep looking at each other and trusting each other, and not playing for ourselves but really playing for each other, I feel like that’s how we’re going to be successful later on in the season.”
After a series of wins against ranked teams, the Pride still see room to improve.
“(We have to keep working on) our team cohesion, our relationships are really important so we’re still working on those and I think everything else is just pretty normal progression so we’re getting better at some things, looking to see if we can be a little hyper focused on some things in practice so we can get to a higher level,” Sullivan said, agreeing with York.
The team will travel to Nashua, New Hampshire where they will return to ranked play, matching up with No. 13 Rivier University on Thursday at 7 p.m.. They will come back to Alden St. for a tri-match next Saturday, Feb. 22, featuring SUNY Potsdam and No. 4 New York University at 3 and 7:00 p.m., respectively.
Photo courtesy of Joe Arruda