Make that 13 and counting.
The tallies in the Springfield College volleyball team’s win column have increased by one in each of the past 13 contests they have competed in. The Pride (19-3) have not lost since a five-set heartbreaker on Feb. 15 at Division III rival and No. 4 Juniata (16-7). Juniata outlasted the Pride to win 24-26, 25-20, 22-25, 28-26, and 24-22.
Since then, the Pride have increased their high level of play. Yesterday’s four-set victory on the road over New York University (9-6) only increased their streak.
“It felt great beating NYU. They are a great team,” junior libero Nick Ferry, who recorded nine digs on the match, said in an email. “We did a great job of staying focused and playing our style of game.”
After dropping the first set 25-20, the Pride rebounded and swept the next three, 25-18, 25-20, and 25-21.
Greg Falcone led the way for the Pride with 12 kills at a remarkable .857 clip, and added six more blocks to his SC all-time leading total. On March 8-9 at the Springfield Invitational at Blake Arena, Falcone surpassed Andy Sipe’s mark of 522 total bocks, which was set from 2006-09. Falcone added six blocks in the victory to give him 76 blocks on the season, which brings his total to 533.
“Greg [Falcone] is immensely important not just for his talent on the court, but he is one of the true leaders on the team. Him and Pelly [Mike Pelletier] are unbelievable captains,” Ferry said. “The record is astonishing, yet Greg remains so humble and is hungry for more.”
The Pride are currently ranked No. 2 in the nation for Division III in the American Volleyball Coaches Association Top 15 Poll, which was last taken on March 12. They are behind only Nazareth, who is currently 22-0. NYU is ranked No. 8.
On the evening, Springfield hit .364 as a team, which is actually slightly below their season average of .391. That percentage leads all of Division III by over .30 points.
“The offense is so powerful because there are so many weapons on this team. Going up against an unbelievable block in practice every day helps as well,” Ferry said.
Mike Pelletier followed Falcone’s effort with 10 kills on 28 errorless attempts. He also recorded six digs and four blocks.
Luis Vega (97 kills on the season) continued his blistering freshman campaign with eight kills and nine digs, while senior John Coen recorded eight kills and seven digs of his own. Coen, who did not start for the majority of the first half of the season, has worked his way into the starting rotation and proven that he belongs there with his recent performances.
He came off the bench and poured in a key performance on March 2 to help the Pride complete a five-set comeback against Vassar. The senior racked up 12 kills at a .391 clip, and added five blocks, five aces and four digs. On the same day, he posted a team-best eight kills against Emmanuel.
He went on to start against Baruch and Hunter at the Springfield Invitational, and continued his run in the starting lineup in yesterday’s victory.
Senior Mike Becker, who has been filling in for last season’s injured starting setter Keaton Pieper, had another fine night, handing out 39 assists and recording four blocks.
Becker is no stranger to running the team’s offense. He was the starting setter in 2011, and accumulated an impressive 1,283 assists.
Vega, a freshman outside hitter, is also filling in for an injured starter from last year in Angel Perez. The fact that the team has not seemed to miss a beat with their new rotation is a testament to coach Charlie Sullivan’s team’s resiliency and depth.
“Keaton [Pieper] and Angel [Perez] are outstanding players, but luckily we have so much depth and talent to fill in. Becker has been outstanding like we knew he would, and Rikki [Luis Vega] is playing great,” Ferry said. “There is so much depth on the team that we know that anyone can step on the court and get the job done.”
Springfield will not play their next game until March 26, when they host Rivier at 6 p.m. in Blake Arena. The team is looking forward to spring break, which will provide some down time.
“Not playing over spring break will help this team heal some injuries and get some rest. The team is pretty good about coming back fresh and focused,” Ferry said.
Springfield will look to continue its winning ways after a week of relaxation and rest in their season-long quest to defend their Division III crown. Have the chalk ready, because the Pride are shooting for consecutive win number 14 to put up on the board.