Springfield, Mass. - February 17, 2018 - The Springfield College men's volleyball team earned a pair of straight-set victories on Saturday in Blake Arena as it bested St. Joseph's of Long Island and Wentworth.
The Pride, who was ranked No. 1 in the country in the latest AVCA Division III National Coaches Poll for the 20th-straight week dating back to last season, improved to 13-1 on the season and have now won 13-straight matches, including their last 23 sets. In fact, with the two wins, Springfield stretched its home winning streak to 25 matches.
Springfield will host another nationally-ranked team on Wednesday when it faces No. 12 Vassar at 7 pm.
Springfield 3, St. Joseph's 0 (25-13, 25-22, 25-15)
Eli Irizarry Pares (San Juan, Puerto Rico), who primarly plays libero for the Pride and was an AVCA Division III All-America selection as season ago, had the best offensive match of his career as he turned in 15 kills at an impressive .667 hitting percentage to go along with four digs and a pair of blocks. Sean Zuvich (San Pedro, Calif.) tallied eight kills, Tucker Evans (Midlothian, Va.) delivered three aces, and Joseth Irizarry Feliciano (Adjuntas, Puerto Rico) registered a match-high four blocks. Mike Neary (Ventura, Calif.) turned in 32 assists in leading the Pride to a .470 team hitting percentage.
In the opening set, Springfield jumped out to a 5-0 advantage after Evans recorded the Pride's first ace of the afternoon. The cushion grew to 10-3 when Irizarry Pares crafted a roll shot around the block and the score ballooned to 20-10 when Irizarry Feliciano hammered a ball in transition to force the Golden Eagles into a timeout. The Pride hit .545 in the stanza and completed the 25-13 win after the visitors eighth attack error of the match.
The second set featured 17 ties and 10 lead changes as the Pride fell behind 13-10 in the early going. Facing a 21-20 deficit, Kenny Lawrence (Longwood, Fla.) sided out before back-to-back aces from Kyle Jasuta (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) allowed Springfield to own a 23-21 edge. A huge stuff of Lawrence and Irizarry Feliciano sealed the 25-22 victory.
Evans was tremendous from the end line to start the third set, ripping a pair of early aces to give the Pride a 6-0 lead. Springfield didn't let up, getting another ace from Eli Gabriel Irizarry Pares (Bayamon, Puerto Rico) for the 17-5 lead as it coasted to the 25-15 win. Springfield hit .556 in the third set, with Irizarry Pares registering six kills on seven errorless attempts.
Springfield 3, Wentworth 0 (25-14, 25-20, 25-15)
Eli Gabriel Irizarry Pares (Bayamon, Puerto Rico) ran a balanced Springfield offense to a .412 hitting percentage as he totaled 29 assists, four blocks, and four kills. Sergio Figueroa Velez (San Juan, Puerto Rico) and Kenny Lawrence (Longwood, Fla.) each tallied nine kills, while Kyle Jasuta (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) and Billy De La Espriella (Northridge, Calif.) each posted seven kills in the win. Eli Irizarry Pares (San Juan, Puerto Rico) had a match-best eight digs, and De La Espriella had three of Springfield's seven aces.
Even at four in the first set, Springfield ripped off six-straight points, highlighted by a pair of kills from Gabriel Irizarry Pares before a kill from Figueroa Velez forced the Leopards into a timeout trailing 12-5. The hosts would lead by as many as 12 points and Figueroa Velez elevated for the stuff block to cap off the 25-14 win. Springfield's offense hit at a .562 clip in the stanza as four players had at least two kills.
The second set was the closest of the evening as it featured nine ties. Knotted at 11-all, Springfield produced a 4-0 burst, with Jasuta blasting an overpass for the 15-11 edge. After Wentworth battled back within 17-16, the hosts scored three of the next four points to earn a 20-17 lead after Lawrence and Joseth Irizarry Feliciano (Adjuntas, Puerto Rico) teammed for a block. Wentworth would get no closer than two and Figueroa Velez ripped his fourth kill of the set for the 25-20 win.
After dropping the first two points of the third set, Springfield reeled off an 8-2 surge, with Figueroa Velez notching back-to-back kills for the 8-4 lead. Another ace from Figueroa Velez made it 13-8 in favor of the Pride, only to have consecutive Wentworth blocks pull the visitors within 16-13. However, Springfield responded with six-straight points behind the strong serving from De La Espriella, to grab a hold of the momentum at 22-13. The Pride then sealed its seventh-consecutive straight-set win when Irizarry Feliciano ripped a ball out of the middle for the 25-15 victory.