By Joe Arruda
Brennen Brandow’s 16th kill of the match solidified No. 2 Springfield College men’s volleyball’s comeback against No. 12 Stevenson in the third set of the International Volleyball Hall of Fame Morgan Classic on Saturday night.
The Pride were down 24-19 before a series of points led to a Mustangs timeout. Soon after, Jarrett Anderson found the court with an ace that tied the set at 24. The teams went point for point, eventually leading to a set point for Springfield.
Going into the fourth set, the Pride had a 2-1 advantage in the match along with all of the momentum they could get in an excited Blake Arena.
They used that momentum to dominate a set that featured 11 more kills from Brandow. He finished with 27 on the night.
“Stevenson was doing so well and they were really starting to pick apart our blocking D a little bit and we were having a tough time getting stops and then a couple guys made a couple good plays and that’s all it takes sometimes is a little spark,” Sullivan said.
“We’re a young team, we’re trying to look at a way we can have a formula that is going to get us more consistent. That’s what we’re working on all the time. Not that it is a big match, or a big rally, but how we can get a consistent match and a consistent rally.”
The 3-1 victory secured a spot for the Morgan Classic trophy in the Springfield College showcase for the fifth year in a row.
“It’s a foundation for what we’re doing,” Head Coach Charlie Sullivan said. “The stuff we’re doing in the gym, we’re trying to transfer that into our competition. It’s evidence that we can critique ourselves with and be strategic in how we’re going to move forward. We’ve got some good competition coming up.”
While the typical hitters for the Pride did their thing, Chris Parker emerged as yet another weapon in maroon. The junior put together a career high 12 kills on a superb .846 hitting percentage to quietly round out the attack, he also added four block assists.
His performance led to him receiving All-Tournament honors alongside first-year Anderson.
“Jarrett, Liam, Brennen are all great pins so the middles have to be focusing on them the entire time. Matt (Lilley) did a great job putting the ball in the right spot and giving me an open net.”
Brandow collected the Most Valuable Player honors after finishing the tournament with 40 kills combined. Lilley led the offense to a .339 hitting percentage with 48 assists.
For the Pride, this win not only represents continued success as a program, but gives the young team even more confidence moving forward.
“We’ve got some really young guys stepping into some really important roles so the fact that we’re winning is definitely good for their confidence, but we’ve just got to keep coming with the same energy we’ve been coming with every match,” Parker said.
The tournament was a great experience not only for the teams involved being able to match up with tough competition, but for the community that was able to immerse themselves in the clinics.
“I’m glad our guys got to experience the tournament, it’s a showcase tournament for the Volleyball Hall of Fame,” Sullivan said. “We have a nice luncheon, then we do the clinics, the community comes in and experiences the tournament so it’s really good for our guys and the visiting teams too.”
The Pride will go on the road to visit No. 5 Vassar on Wednesday at 6:00 p.m.. It will be their third straight match against a nationally ranked opponent.