Springfield, Mass. - January 20, 2009 - The Springfield College men's volleyball team opened up the 2009 season with a three-game sweep over MIT on Tuesday evening in Blake Arena. The defending national champions won by the game scores of 30-19, 30-22, 30-25 and were paced by AJ Nally, who notched 10 kills and seven blocks in the victory.
With the win, the Pride, currently ranked No. 1 in the country in the latest Bison/AVCA Division III Men’s Top 15 Coaches Poll, improve to 1-0 while the Engineers fall to 1-3.
In the opening game, a kill from MIT's David Thomas made it 6-5 in favor of Springfield. From there, the Pride rattled off a 6-1 run, that was fueled by a pair of kills from last season's AVCA Division III Newcomer of the Year Cal Palumbo. The Pride continued to roll in the opening frame as the Engineers were only able to get within five after another Thomas kill, making it 21-16. The Pride closed out the stanza scoring nine of the games final 12 points as Mark Ribiero blasted home a kill to close out the first game, 30-19.
Once again, the Pride were able to use a run to break away from MIT in the second game. After a Michael Demyttenaere ace brought MIT within one at 11-10, Springfield opened up a 7-1 spurt to take a commanding 18-11 lead. Springfield took advantage of several MIT errors during the scoring run and never looked back as it took the game by a 30-22 count. For the second straight game, MIT was held to a .000 hitting percentage.
Head coach Charlie Sullivan mixed up his lineup in the third game and the play of Pete Manguiat provided a spark off the bench. The junior outside hitter recorded six kills on seven swings in the third game, hitting .857. MIT was in control from the beginning of the third game as it held a 19-16 lead after a Pride attack error. However, Springfield pulled it together as it went on a 10-2 run to make it a 26-21 ball game after an Engineer error. Freshman Jeff Gutmann closed out the match as he registered a kill in his first match for the Maroon and White.
For the match, the Pride hit .324 as a team and was especially impressive as it finished with 13.5 team blocks. MIT finished with a .040 hitting percentage and had trouble with the Pride's serving all night as the Engineers were aced eight times.
Nally finished with 10 kills, seven blocks, including five block assists, and four digs. Ryan Fredrickson added a team-best 10 kills as well and chipped in with five digs and two blocks. Palumbo finished with five kills, hitting .444, and notched five blocks. Eric Shoemaker directed the offense with 31 assists to go along with three aces and five blocks. Ruben Fernandez finished with a team-best seven digs, all coming in the third game, while Bob Waters tallied six digs.
For MIT, Thomas finished with 12 kills and six digs, while Garrett Winther tallied seven kills, six assists, and two blocks. Scott Pollom finished with team-best five blocks.
The Pride return to action when it travels to take on Vassar on Friday evening in what will be a rematch of last year's national championship contest.