Nashua, N.H. - January 31, 2018 - The Springfield College men's volleyball topped Rivier University in straight sets on Wednesday night in Muldoon Gymnasium by the scores of 25-14, 25-22, 25-21.
Springfield has now strung together seven-straight wins to improve to 7-1, while the Raiders dropped to 4-4. The Pride entered the week ranked No. 1 in Division III according to the American Volleyball Coaches Association, marking 18-consecutive weeks that Springfield has sat atop the poll dating back to last season.
The senior outside hitter duo of Sergio Figueroa Velez (San Juan, Puerto Rico) and Ricardo Padilla Ayala (San Juan, Puerto Rico) were sensational in the win as they each registered 16 kills. Padilla Ayala hit at a .542 clip and added eight digs and two aces, while Figueroa Velez recorded a .444 hitting percentage and chipped in six digs and an ace. Eli Gabriel Irizarry Pares (Bayamon, Puerto Rico) was credited with 35 assists, five digs, and three blocks in orchestrating Springfield's offense to a .322 hitting percentage, while his brother Eli Irizarry Pares (San Juan, Puerto Rico), totaled seven digs.
Springfield jumped out to a 6-1 lead to start the match, riding four early kills from Padilla Ayala, only to have three attack errors, as part of a 4-0 Rivier burst to make it a one-point game. The Pride would regain control, using a 9-1 surge that was highlighted by three kills from Figueroa Velez and capped off by a huge stuff by Joseth Irizarry Feliciano (Adjuntas, Puerto Rico) and Gabriel Irizarry Pares, for the 15-7 lead. The visitors would coast to a 25-14 victory as they hit .346, with both Padilla Ayala and Figueroa Velez totaling five kills apiece.
Even at eight in the second set, Springfield built a four-point cushion at 16-12, thanks to an 8-4 push that was capped off by another kill from Figueroa Velez. After three-consecutive miscues forced the Pride into a timeout with 20-18 advantage, Springfield scored three of the next four points, getting a huge ace from Tucker Evans (Midlothian, Va.) to earn a 23-19 edge. Figueroa Velez's sixth kill of the set sealed the 25-22 win, a frame in which the Pride hit .345.
The third set featured 15 ties and four lead changes as Springfield found itself trailing 15-12 following three-straight attack errors. Out of a timeout, Springfield delivered a 4-1 run, with back-to-back kills from Figueroa Velez knotting the frame at 16. The Raiders would lead for the final time at 19-18 before a pair of Padilla Ayala kills sandwiched a Rivier attack error, forcing the hosts into a timeout trailing 21-19. Evans ripped consecutive aces out of the timeout to make it a four-point contest, and Gabriel Irizarry Pares hammered the Pride's 19th kill of the set for the 25-21 victory.
Springfield will head to New York for a tri-match at Vassar with St. Joseph's (LI) beginning at 2 pm in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.