Hoboken, N.J. - April 26, 2015 - The Springfield College men's volleyball team was defeated in the NCAA Division III National Championship match in straight sets by host Stevens on Sunday afternoon in Canavan Arena. The Ducks won by the scores of 25-20, 25-21, 25-21.
The Pride, which had advanced to the national championship match for the the seventh time in the past eight years, closes its season with a 25-7 record. Springfield had captured nine Division III national championships as a men's volleyball program, including winning the previous three NCAA Division III Championships after claiming the crowns in 2012, 2013, and 2014.
Angel Perez (Naranjito, Puerto Rico) led Springfield with 13 kills, while Ricardo Padilla Ayala (San Juan, Puerto Rico) added nine kills. Keaton Pieper (Dallas, Texas) handed out 30 assists as Springfield was limited to a .167 hitting percentage, its second-lowest clip of the season. Ryan Malone (Chicopee, Mass.) was credited with a match-high 12 digs, and Joseth Irizarry Feliciano (Adjuntas, Puerto Rico) chipped in five kills and three blocks.
For their efforts all weekend, Malone and Padilla Ayala were named to the NCAA All-Tournament Team.
After a back-and-forth start to the match, Springfield gained a 12-8 cushion following an overpass kill from Padilla Ayala. The Ducks would use a 4-0 run, taking advantage of back-to-back Springfield attack errors to force head coach Charlie Sullivan into his first timeout of the afternoon, trailing 18-17. After Perez tipped a kill to even things at 18, Stevens closed out the game on a 7-2 burst to take the opening set 25-20. Springfield was limited to just a .143 hitting percentage in the set, with Perez totaling a team-best four kills.
A big block from Irizarry Feliciano and Greg Woods (Middletown, Conn.) put Springfield ahead 4-1 to begin the second set, only to have a Daniel Smith ace find the back corner put the hosts back on top 5-4. The Ducks would go on to take a 15-14 lead into the media timeout, but a Perez ace tied things at 16 all. Springfield would climb within 21-20 on the big swing from Padilla Ayala, but the Ducks rattled off three-straight points to earn set point. The teams would trade service errors as the hosts took a 2-0 set lead after the 25-21 win. Springfield hit just .139 in the set, despite five kills from both Perez and Padilla Ayala.
The Ducks took an 8-4 lead to begin the third set on an Evans roll shot and Sullivan wasted little time calling timeout. The hosts continued to put the pressure on Springfield, and Evans delivered another ace for a 13-8 advantage. The hosts lead would grow to as many as six, but Springfield would not go away and climbed within 16-13 following a Tucker Evans (Midlothian, Va.) ace. However, the Ducks offense proved to be to much as it totaled 15 kills in the frame, and Ferriter pounded his seventh of the frame to complete the three-set victory.