With a fulfilling streak of 18 wins and a program-best record of 30-5 to close out the regular season, the expectations for the Springfield College men’s volleyball team are sky high, but the Pride aren’t overlooking what is in the midst barreling towards them.
An ideal situation is assembled, with the Pride hoping to capture the program’s second title in three years, on their home court. The first barrier to their decisive goal is the No. 8 seed in the inaugural NCAA Division III Men’s Volleyball Tournament, Baruch College.
“It would be great, but we are so far away from it right now,” Charlie Sullivan, the 14-year men’s volleyball coach, said. “We know we have to score 25 points in the first game against Baruch; we have to figure out how to be successful there. It is going to be a long, long, long journey.”
Baruch College, from New York City, finished 24-16 and was granted a tournament berth in a 3-2 win over Hunter College. The Bearcats are equipped with fundamentally-sound talent, especially middle blocker Steve Coniglio, who recorded 357 kills in his second year.
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The Pride, however, have ample talent of their own. This season, first-year outside hitter Angel Perez was rewarded with the American Volleyball Coaches Association Division III Newcomer Player of the Year and Men’s All-America First Team.
“It is a great honor to receive those recognitions because there are many deserving players,” the Naranjito native said. “I am very thankful to be recognized.”
Along with Perez, middle blocker Greg Falcone made his presence known at the net, earning himself a spot on the AVCA All-America First team.
“Whenever we get an individual award in our program, somebody has to be fortunate enough to represent the team and get that acknowledgment,” the third-year player said. “The opportunity to come in every day to be faced with failure in playing our number-two team really sets us off to reach our potential every game.”
Preparing for a big tournament like this one is not new for the Pride. In fact, the plan is to continue with the normal repetitions.
“We prepare hard,” Sullivan said. “We prepare with respect and in any way possible. We have to give everything we have to play our best volleyball.”
The tournament will commence with the Pride clashing with the Bearcats on Friday at 12:30 p.m. When all is said and done, the victorious team will play the winner of No. 4 Kean University and No. 5 Hunter College in the semifinals on Saturday at 4 p.m.
Mark Loiselle may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org