Irvine, Calif. - January 13, 2018 - The Springfield College men's volleyball team was bested in four sets in its season opener on Saturday afternoon to Concordia Irvine. The Eagles won by the scores of 17-25, 25-20, 25-17, 26-24.
Springfield, which is the top-ranked team at the NCAA Division III level after capturing its 10 national championship last April, dropped to 0-1. Concordia Irvine, a Division II institution that competes in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation against the likes of BYU, UCLA, and Stanford, improves to 1-0.
Ricardo Padilla Ayala (San Juan, Puerto Rico) put together an impressive performance on the pin for Springfield as he totaled 19 kills at a .447 hitting percentage, to go along with eight digs. Sergio Figueroa Velez (San Juan, Puerto Rico) totaled a career-high 12 kills, Sean Zuvich (San Pedro, Calif.) produced 10 digs and nine kills, and Michael Neary (Ventura, Calif.) handed out 43 assists in leading the Pride to a .300 hitting percentage.
Springfield was outstanding in the opening set, hitting .469 on 16 kills, including six from Padilla Ayala and five from Zuvich. Owning a 7-5 lead, Springfield put together a 7-3 push, as Figueroa Velez swiped a kill off the block to force the Eagles into a timeout at 14-8. The Pride would push its lead to as many as eight points and take the 25-17 win following the Eagles fifth attack error of the frame.
A kill from Zuvich tied the second set for the fifth time at 7-7, only to have Concordia produce a 6-3 run to force Springfield into its first timeout of the season at 13-10. A huge stuff from Neary and Joseth Irizarry Feliciano (Adjuntas, Puerto Rico) brought the Pride within 15-14, but consecutive kills from Concordia gave them a three-point cushion and the breathing room they'd need to coast to the 25-20 win. Concordia hit at a .462 clip in the frame, compared to Springfield's .269 hitting percentage.
The hosts carried that momentum into the third and surged out to a 9-3 lead. After Springfield pulled within 16-12 on another kill from Padilla Ayala, the Eagles used a 4-1 push as Springfield burned a timeout at 20-13. The Pride's offense managed just five kills in the stanza but was able to benefit from nine Concordia service errors to keep things close, before dropping a 25-17 decision.
The fourth set featured 17 ties as Springfield started to find its offensive rhythm again in the fourth, producing 14 kills while hitting .312. Facing a 24-21 deficit, Springfield buckled down on defense and forced three-straight Concordia errors to knot things up at 24. However, the Eagles manufactured two kills down the stretch to complete the victory.