New York, N.Y. - March 3, 2018 - The top-ranked Springfield College men's volleyball team delivered a pair of victories against Mt. St. Vincent and Hunter on Saturday afternoon, sweeping both opponents in impressive fashion, to push their winning streak to 19 matches.
Springfield extended its NCAA men's volleyball record of most consecutive sets won to 41 straight, including sweeping their last 13 matches. The Pride improved to 19-1 and remain the No. 1 team in the latest American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Division III Coaches Poll for the 22nd-straight week dating back to last season.
Springfield will now prepare for another rematch of the the last two NCAA Division III National Championships when it travels to face New Paltz for a 6 pm.
Springfield 3, Mt. St. Vincent 0 (25-14, 25-18, 25-17)
The Pride produced a .400 team hitting percentage with Mike Neary (Ventura, Calif.) running the offense as he handed out 38 assists. Billy De La Espriella (Northridge, Calif.) was impressive on the pin with 12 kills at a .450 clip, while Kenny Lawrence (Longwood, Fla.) registered 11 kills. Tucker Evans (Midlothian, Va.) and De La Espriella each had three aces apiece, while Neary delivered four blocks and Joseth Irizarry Feliciano (Adjuntas, Puerto Rico) chipped in three blocks as the Pride held the Dolphins to a .120 hitting percentage.
Clinging to an 8-7 lead in the first set, Springfield put together a 6-1 burst fueled by three aces from Evans to open up a 14-8 cushion. Both Lawrence and De La Espriella had four kills in a frame where the Pride hit .455, and Evans ended the set with the Pride's 14th kill for the 25-14 win.
With an 11-10 advantage in the second set, Springfield used a sideout kill from De La Espriella, who then ripped a pair of aces to force the Dolphins into a timeout facing a 15-10 deficit. Despite seven kills from De La Espriella, Springfield only hit .281 in the set, but was able to cruise to the 25-15 victory after another kill from Irizarry Feliciano.
In the third, Springfield used two kills from Lawrence as part of a 5-0 push to race out to a 7-2 lead. The Pride would lead by as many as nine in the set, at 21-12 after another kill from Lawrence, and Neary elevated for a stuff block on match point at for the 25-17 win. Eight different players had at least one kill in the frame, with the Pride hitting at a .524 percentage.
Springfield 3, Hunter 0 (25-20, 25-16, 25-18)
Competing against Hunter for the first time since the teams met in last year's NCAA Division III Championship Quarterfinals, Springfield's offense totaled a .474 team hitting percentage thanks to the direction of Eli Gabriel Irizarry Pares (Bayamon, Puerto Rico), who registered 31 assists, 12 digs, and five kills. Joseth Irizarry Feliciano (Adjuntas, Puerto Rico) put together a special showing in the middle, delivering 10 kills on 11 errorless attempts and Kenny Lawrence (Longwood, Fla.) produced 11 kills, hitting .471. Both Eli Irizarry Pares (San Juan, Puerto Rico) and Johjan Mussa Robles (Caguas, Puerto Rico) had six digs and Irizarry Feliciano had three blocks.
The Pride found itself trailing 12-6 in the opening set, but would eventually find their rhythm as part of a 14-5 push which was finished off by Lawrence bouncing a ball in transition as the hosts burned a timeout at 20-17. Lawrence later delivered his fifth kill of the frame at 25-20 as the Pride were limited to a .250 hitting percentage in the win.
Springfield scored the first four points of the set and raced out to an 18-8 cushion following another kill by Lawrence. Irizarry Feliciano's six kills aided a .520 team hitting percentage in the set by Springfield, a frame in which they totaled 15 kills, as they cruised to a 25-16 win.
The visitors offense continued to be dominant, accounting for 18 kills at a .680 clip in the third set, with Ricardo Padilla Ayala (San Juan, Puerto Rico) leading the way with five kills. After scoring the first three points of the frame, the Pride's lead would balloon to 20-12 following a Hawks attack error. The Pride would wrap up their afternoon in New York City with Padilla Ayala blasting a kill at 25-18.