With Easter the following day, a good portion of the student body at Springfield College had gone home for the rest of the weekend.
A decrease in students certainly didn’t stop Blake Arena from being filled with electricity and enthusiasm. The Springfield College faithful experienced up and down emotions on Saturday afternoon as they watched their no.3 men’s volleyball team take down No.6 nationally ranked New Paltz in five sets (21-25, 26-24, 25-23, 19-25, 15-10).
Facing a fellow national title contender, Springfield (21-6) knew it would be a tough contest. As the end of the regular season is nearing, the Pride were aware that their remaining games would be no walk in the park.
“Coach (Sullivan) said we had no easy games on our schedule,” said Greg Woods. “This (New Paltz game) is the one that we had pinned in and this was the one we were preparing for really hard.”
Looking at the outcome of the game, it is evident that coach Charlie Sullivan’s team did respond. Woods led the charge for the Pride, claiming 23 kills and four blocks, while senior Angel Perez picked up his game finishing with 13 kills. Freshman Ricardo Padilla Ayala tallied 12 kills.
Christopher Husmann led the Hawks with 13 kills on the afternoon.
Both team benches were focused and excited, jumping up and down in a complete frenzy after each of their respective team’s earned a hard-fought point.
Springfield proved that their intensity would eventually outlast the Hawks. But, it wasn’t quite easy. The Pride gathered a great amount of intensity in the 2nd and 3rd sets but let their guard down in the fourth set, allowing New Paltz to tie the match at 2-2.
The maroon and white needed to snap out of their fourth-set funk and get back on track. Springfield had hitting errors right from the start of the fourth set that helped the Hawks build an early lead.
“The errors didn’t sink us,” said Sullivan. “We returned from the errors which was really nice. It’s really important this time of year.”
Heading right into the fifth and final, deciding set, Springfield got back into a rhythm. Being down 1-0, Jason Mascoe and Woods teamed up for a game-tying block. From there, the Pride scored six straight points to break open the contest.
But, the celebration would have to wait as the Hawks continued to fight back, scoring three straight points of their own, cutting the lead to 7-4.
Springfield kept their composure and pulled out a solid balance of great plays to overcome the Hawks one last run. Perez had a hard-fought dive to dig a ball which then set up for the 23rd kill for Woods.
Springfield’s ability to get past their struggles in the fourth set was what ultimately got them the victory.
“Great match,” said Sullivan. “They didn’t let it affect them negatively which was awesome.”
A number of Padilla’s 12 kills had unbelievable power to them, making it almost feel like Blake Arena may have tilted for a split second. Perez’s hustle to dive for balls as well as Keaton Pieper (50 assists, nine digs) making of great plays to keep the play alive are key pieces to the Pride’s current success.
Springfield has now won 12 of its last 13 games and it couldn’t possibly come at a better time.
“We play for the end of April, that’s when the championship is,” said Woods. “This is where were supposed to be right now and were playing well thanks to everybody on the team.”