Springfield, Mass. - February 25, 2017 - The top-ranked Springfield College men's volleyball team earned two more-straight set victories at home as it swept Sage and Johnson & Wales on Saturday afternoon in Blake Arena. The Pride bested Sage by the set scores of 25-22, 25-13, 25-19 before downing JWU, 25-14, 25-16, 25-13.
The Pride, which is the top-ranked men's volleyball program in Division III according to this week's American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) National Poll, improved to 16-1 with the wins. The Pride has won its last 34 sets dating back to January 28, including all 30 that it played in the month of February.
Springfield will hit the road on Wednesday for a rematch of last year's NCAA Division III National Championship when it takes on rival New Paltz at 6pm.
Springfield 3, Sage 0 (25-22, 25-13, 25-19)
The Pride hit .371 in the straight-set victory as Mike Neary (Ventura, Calif.) handed out 31 assists for the hosts. Billy De La Espriella (Northridge, Calif.) totaled career-high marks in kills and blocks with nine and three in the win, while both Shaun Ermi (Rush, N.Y.) and Jason Weedon (North Tustin, Calif.) added seven kills apiece. Johjan Mussa Robles (Caugas, Puerto Rico) was credited with a match-best eight digs.
After a kill from Ermi gave Springfield a 6-4 lead in the first set, the Gators put together a 5-1 push thanks to four errors by the Pride. Springfield would later manufacture an 8-3 burst of its own, getting consecutive kills from Weedon to highlight the run. De La Espriella would finish off the 25-22 win with the Pride's 10th kills of the set as its offense was limited to a .182 hitting percentage, with Joseth Irizarry Feliciano (Adjuntas, Puerto Rico) notching three kills in the frame.
Springfield opened up a 12-8 lead in the second set after Weedon converted out of the backrow in transition. The visitors would answer with two straight points before De La Espriella kickstarted a 13-3 run with a kill and solo block as the Pride eased its way to a 25-13 win. The Pride's offense came alive in the second set and put on a show, posting 13 kills on 14 errorless attempts for a .929 hitting percentage.
Springfield carried that momentum into the third set, seizing an 8-2 lead to thanks to the strong serving of Irizarry Feliciano. The Gators battled back to even things at 15 apiece, but the Pride responded four-straight points, capped off by a big swing from Sean Zuvich (San Pedro, Calif.), to provided Springfield with a 19-15 cushion. Sage would never get any closer than three points and Springfield wrapped up the sweep with a 25-19 win as Weedon, Ermi, and De La Espriella each had three kills for the hosts, which hit at a .308 clip.
Springfield , Johnson & Wales (25-14, 25-16, 25-13)
Luis Garcia Rubio (Bayamon, Puerto Rico) directed Springfield's offense to a .424 hitting percentage as he delivered 30 assists to go along with a team-best three blocks in the straight-set victory. Luis Vega (Corozal, Puerto Rico) was dominant for the Pride, totaling 16 killst at an impressive .700 clip, while chipping in a team-best six digs and three aces. Ricardo Padilla Ayala (San Juan, Puerto Rico) led all players with five aces.
Springfield stormed out to a 7-2 lead following back-to-back aces and a thunderous backrow kill by Padilla Ayala to start the match. The Wildcats never got within four as the Pride hit .500 in the set, with Padilla Ayala dictating things from the end line with all five of his aces, while Vega totaled five kills to pace the offense.
The second stanza featured nine ties and four lead changes, and Springfield trailed 12-10 following an error by Garcia Rubio. However, the hosts regrouped with five-straight points, including a pair of aces by Vega, to regain a 15-12 cushion. From there, Springfield closed out the set on a 10-3 burst, with Vega terminating his seventh kill of the frame for the 25-16 win.
The Pride's defense forced the visitors into 10 attack errors in the third set, including five in the early going, as a block by Trevor Mattson (Redlands, Calif.) and Kyle Jasuta (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) forced the Wildcats into a timeout trailing 9-3. The Pride cruised to a 25-13 final set win, getting a big swing from Vega on match point to conclude the sweep.