New York, N.Y. - April 6, 2011 - The Springfield College men's volleyball team locked up a spot in the 2011 Molten Division III Invitational National Championship on Wednesday evening after toppling NYU in four sets. The Pride were victorious by the set scores of 27-25, 25-21, 19-25, 25-13.
The Pride, which are ranked third in this week's AVCA Division III National Poll, improve to 14-13 on the season. For the Violets, their run at a national championship comes to a close as the second-ranked team in the country fell to 17-8.
Springfield has won six Molten National Championships and will look to win back-to-back titles when it travels to Rochester, N.Y. for the 2011 Molten Championships hosted by Nazareth College on April 15-16. Host Nazareth College along with Baruch College and Carthage College are the other three teams who have secured bids to the championship weekend. The Molten Division III Men's Invitational Volleyball Championship, in its 15th and final year, was formed due to a need for a culminating event for NCAA Division III men's volleyball. However, a vote at the NCAA Convention in January has given NCAA Division III Men's Volleyball its own NCAA Championship, with the first event being conducted in April 2012.
Alberto Bravo was dominant from the opening whistle as he hammered 23 kills at a .529 clip to go along with eight digs and three blocks. Mike Pelletier added 13 kills while hitting .545, and Greg Falcone chipped in 10 kills and four blocks. Mike Becker directed Springfield's offense with 53 assists as the Pride hit .458 for the match, its second-best hitting performance of the year. Nick Ferry also turned up a match-high 12 digs.
Leading the Violets in the loss was Pat Dodd who notched a team-high 12 kills and hit .360 on offense, while also picking up the team's only two service aces of the match. Also in double-digits on offense was Taylor Fauntleroy who tallied 10 kills while coming just short of the double-double with nine digs. On defense at the net, Nick Capriccio put back a match-high five blocks including two solos while also putting down 7 kills on offense. Along the back line, libero Jay Hayes put up a team-high 11 digs.
In the opening set, Springfield held a 12-10 lead after Becker registered a solo block. The Violets climbed right back in the match and earned a 18-16 lead after Dodd fired an ace, which forced Springfield into a timeout. Out of the break, the Pride regained a two-point cushion at 23-21, only to have the hosts score the next two points to even the score at 23 and force the Pride into another timeout. Springfield would trade a pair of kills with two of their own errors for the next four points before a Tommy Crow kill and double block from Cal Palumbo and Pelletier gave Springfield a 27-25 win.
A Fauntleroy kill put the Violets up 16-14 in the second, but Springfield battled back to take a 19-18 lead after a solo block by Bravo. Another kill from Dodd capped off a 3-1 spurt by the Violets as Springfield took a timeout trailing 21-20. The Pride answered with consecutive kills from Bravo and Becker to force NYU into a timeout. It was much of the same result from there as kills from Pelletier and Palumbo sandwiched an NYU attack error as the Pride took the second set.
NYU raced out to a 17-11 lead in the third and never looked back as it forced a fourth set. Springfield's hitting and serving errors accounted for 14 NYU points in the frame.
Hitting .737 in the fourth and final set, Springfield completed the match in very impressive fashion. The Pride registered 15 kills on 19 swings while committing just one error as it stormed past the Violets to complete the four-game victory. Bravo had five kills in the set and Becker ripped three aces to pace Springfield to the win.
Springfield will wrap up its regular season on Saturday afternoon in a critical EIVA Tait Conference match against visiting Rutgers Newark at 4:00 pm.