Union, N.J. - April 26, 2019 - The Springfield College men's volleyball team fell to New Paltz in the NCAA Division III Championship Semifinals in Harwood Arena on the campus of Kean University on Friday afternoon. Set scores were 23-25, 25-21, 25-16, 25-22.
Appearing in the Division III National Semifinal for the 10th-straight season, Springfield's season came to a close with a 27-3 record. It has been remarkable run of success for the Pride, as this marks the first time since the NCAA started a Division III Men's Volleyball Championship in 2012 that Springfield did not reach the championship match. New Paltz, which bested Springfield for the first time since the 2016 NCAA Division III National Championship, improved to 27-7.
Brennen Brandow (Manorville, N.Y.) led the Pride with a team-best 13 kills and a career-high seven blocks, while Mike Neary (Ventura, Calif.) added eight kills at a .412 clip from the right side. Eli Gabriel Irizarry Pares (Bayamon, Puerto Rico) totaled 26 assists in leading the Pride to a .194 hitting percentage, and Johjan Mussa Robles (Caguas, Puerto Rico) was credited with a team-high 10 digs. For his efforts in the championship, Brandow was named to the NCAA Division III Championship All-Tournament Team.
For New Paltz, Aaron Carrk erupted for 18 kills, hitting .438, while Nick Smith added 16 kills. Matthew Grace handed out 49 assists, Robert Nolan registered a match-high 11 digs, and Nick O'Malley contributed 10 kills and four blocks off the bench.
In the opening set, Kyle Jasuta (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) and Brandow teammed up for a block to cap off a five-point run to give the Pride an early 5-2 lead. Springfield's lead would grow to 15-11 following the Hawks sixth attack error of the match at the technical timeout, but New Paltz would battle back to 17-all following a solo block and kill from O'Malley. Springfield would respond with a 4-1 surge, as Neary ripped a kill off the block in transition to force New Paltz into a timeout at 21-18. The Hawks would make one last push, tying things up at 23, before a Hawks attack error and kill from Eli Gabriel Irizarry Pares allowed the Pride to win a 25-23 frame. Springfield was able to limit the Hawks to a .143 hitting percentage in the set, with Brandow notching four blocks.
After New Paltz gained a 9-6 lead to start the second set, Springfield answered with 5-1 burst, getting a huge block from Brandow and Chris Parker (East Northport, N.Y.) to gain an 11-10 edge. However, the Hawks produced a 7-3 run of their own, as a kill in transition from Carrk at 17-14 made the Pride whistle for a timeout. The Hawks would push their advantage to 22-16 and take the 25-22 win following Carrk's seven kill of the set as Springfield was held to a .091 hitting percentage.
Springfield jumped out to a 4-2 lead in the fourth, only to have New Paltz answer with five-consecutive points to take a lead it would not relinquish. After getting within 12-10 on a kill from Eli Irizarry Pares (Bayamon, Puerto Rico), Springfield fell victim to a 8-2 Hawks burst as the lead ballooned to 20-12. New Paltz would hit at a .400 clip in the frame, as it coasted to the 25-16 win.
In the fourth, Springfield used a 5-1 run to rally from a 13-8 deficit and pull within 14-13 following the Hawks third-straight miscue. After Jasuta and Eli Irizarry Pares combined for a block at 20-19, New Paltz leaned on Carrk and O'Malley down the stretch, as the duo combined for five kills to seal the 25-22 win.
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