Fullerton, Calif. - January 19, 2019 - The Springfield College men's volleyball team picked up its first win of the 2019 campaign as it downed Hope International in four sets on Saturday night by the set scores of 25-21, 26-24, 19-25, 25-22.
Opening up the season in California for the seventh-straight season, Springfield improved to 1-1 on the year. The Pride, which is No. 1 in the country in the latest AVCA Division III National Coaches Poll, rebounded after previously being swept by Concordia Irvine earlier in the day. The loss dropped HIU, which competes at the NAIA level, to 1-1 on the year.
Eli Irizarry Pares (Bayamon, Puerto Rico) totaled 14 kills to pace the offense, while Brennen Brandow (Manorville, N.Y.) produced 13 kills, eight digs, and a pair of aces. Johjan Mussa Robles (Cauguas, Puerto Rico) collected a career-best 15 digs and Eli Gabriel Irizarry Pares (Bayamon, Puerto Rico) handed out 39 assists in leading the Pride to a .220 hitting percentage. In the middle, Kyle Jasuta (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) and Chris Parker (East Northport, N.Y.) combined for 15 kills.
In the opening set, Springfield faced an early 5-4 deficit, but would use a 6-2 surge to earn a 10-7 lead following back-to-back hitting errors by HIU. After the Royals chipped away at the lead to eventually tie things up at 11-all, Springfield scored four unanswered points, capped off by an ace by Brandow, to gain a comfortable 15-11 edge. The Pride would continue to roll through the frame, and a kill out of the middle by Parker sealed the 25-21 win.
The second set was a back-and-forth affair and featured a total of 14 ties. A kill from Parker allowed the Pride to gain a 17-15 cushion, but the Royals used a 7-3 burst of their own following two-straight Pride miscues to regain a 22-20 advantage Springfield would respond to earn set point at 24-23 on a kill from Eli Gabriel Irizarry Pares, only to have the hosts answer back with a sideout kill. Jasuta would hammer a ball out of the middle to again give Springfield set point, and Eli Irizarry Pares buried a ball cross court in transition for the 26-24 triumph.
Hope International stormed out to a 6-0 lead in the third set and never looked back as it cruised to a 25-19 win. Springfield would get as close as 22-19 on an ace from Eli Gabriel Irizarry Pares, but a sideout kill and consecutive attack errors by the Pride gave the Royals their first set victory of the evening.
In the fourth, Parker ripped an ace to put Springfield ahead, 8-6, but the hosts would score six of the next nine points to regain a 12-11 lead after a Pride error. Despite Springfield retaking a 16-14 lead of their own, HIU seemed poised to send the match to a fifth set with the momentum on their side and a 22-21 lead following a huge block. However, out a timeout, Eli Irizarry Pares took over down the stretch, delivering four-straight kills, including the match-sealing kill off the block, to rally the Pride to victory.
Springfield will return to the East Coast to begin Division III action it travels to face Johnson & Wales in the JWU Tip-Off Tournament on Friday, beginning at 4 pm.