In a rematch of the 2017 title game between No. 1 Springfield College and No. 14 New Paltz St., the Pride were victorious in straight sets to win the International Volleyball Hall of Fame Morgan Classic.
The last time the Hawks played in Western Massachusetts, they were greeted by a sold-out sea of students wearing white and an atmosphere so electric it shook the dome of Blake Arena. The Pride kept the trophy at home after that win.
Fast forward to the 2018 Morgan Classic. Every player to sub in for the Pride knew what they were playing for: a rivalry.
Every kill, every block, and every serve was played with so much emotion, similar to the atmosphere that was experienced nearly a year ago in the Mecca. Despite the flares of emotion flying through the air, Springfield kept its poise.
With many Pride players returning from the 2017 season, Sergio Figueroa Velez was one of those faces that didn’t get to see the floor during the National Championship. Due to an injury, the Universidad de Puerto Rico transfer wasn’t able to enter the match.
Prior to that injury, Figueroa Velez led the nation in aces per set and he showed New Paltz that he was even more effective from the service line in 2018, leading all players with four aces in the rematch. Not only was he present from behind the stripe, he was also noticeably all over the floor.
“[Sergio’s] done a good job and has been focused in the gym,” said Springfield head coach Charlie Sullivan. “We had a really good week of preparation where we had a chance to break some things down and be good students and learn a lot, and Sergio’s progressing every week as we go along so I’m really proud of him.
Figueroa Velez led all players in kills converting 12 of his 15 attempts at a .733 clip and added 10 digs to his line, a career-best for the senior. Billy De La Espriella was also good for eight kills in the contest.
The Pride will play host to St. Joseph’s and Wentworth next Saturday, Feb. 17. Springfield has already beaten St. Joseph’s this season, 3-0, and has yet to see Wentworth since the NCAA tournament last season.