Newark, N.J. - April 12, 2017 - The Springfield College men's volleyball team closed out the regular season with a four-set win at Division-I foe New Jersey Institute of Technology in the Estelle and Zoom Fleisher Athletic Center on Wednesday night. Springfield won by the scores 28-26, 22-25, 25-14, 25-20.
Springfield, which was ranked the No. 1 Division III team in the country for the 13th-straight week in the most recent American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Poll, improved to 26-2. The Highlanders, who play in the Division I EIVA Conference, dropped to 13-11 on the year.
Sean Zuvich (San Pedro, Calif.) had a standout match on the right side for the Pride, totaling a season-best 19 kills, while Luis Vega (Corozal, Puerto Rico) added 18 kills at a .467 clip to go along with three aces and three blocks. Luis Garcia Rubio (Bayamon, Puerto Rico) was credited with 44 assists as the Pride hit .353 as a team. Jonathan Rodriguez Lopez (Bayamon, Puerto Rico) recorded five blocks and Eli Irizarry Pares (San Juan, Puerto Rico) racked up a match-best eight digs.
The first set featured 18 ties and Springfield faced a 24-22 deficit, only to have a solo stuff by Kyle Jasuta (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) and kill by Ricardo Padilla Ayala (San Juan, Puerto Rico) in transition knot the set and force the Highlanders into a timeout. The teams would trade points until 26-all when a kill by Vega and huge block from Zuvich and Rodriguez Lopez allowed the Pride to earn the 28-26 win. Vega led the way with eight kills coming at a .583 hitting percentage, while Rodriguez Lopez posted three blocks. Springfield as a team hit .387 and was able to overcome nine service errors.
The Pride's offense struggled in the second set and the visitors found themselves facing a 16-10 deficit midway through the frame. Springfield began to chip away and climbed within 24-22 following Billy De La Espriella's (Northridge, Calif.) third kill of the stanza. However, NJIT was able to take the 25-22 win after Springfield committed its eighth service error to tie the match at a set apiece.
Holding a 6-5 lead in the third, Springfield reeled off a 6-2 burst capped off by a Jasuta ace to earn a 12-7 cushion. Three consecutive miscues by the hosts allowed the Pride's lead to grow to 17-10 and Zuvich later blasted his sixth kill of the set to seal the 25-14 victory.
Springfield carried that momentum into the fourth, with Jasuta delivering an early ace and kill to give the Pride a 3-0 lead that it would never relinquish. After NJIT pulled within 15-14, Springfield benefited from three kills from Vega to fuel a 6-1 run to grab a 21-15 edge. The Highlanders battled within 22-20, but out of a Springfield timeout, a kill from Zuvich and Vega ace gave the Pride match point. NJIT then committed its 24th attack error of the night, finishing the contest hitting just .153 as Springfield pulled out the win. De La Espriella proved to be a tremendous spark off the bench and finished the night with seven kills on 12 errorless attempts.
Springfield will now await its postseason fate when the 12-team NCAA Championship field is announced on NCAA.com on Monday morning at 10 am.