University Park, Pa. - April 30, 2011 - The Springfield College men's volleyball team's season came to a close on Saturday night as it dropped a three-set match to host Penn State University in the Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (EIVA) Championship in Rec Hall on Saturday evening. Springfield's season comes to a close with an 18-15 record as its bid for its first trip as a Division III program to the NCAA Division I Final Four came to a close.
"We’ll use this as a learning experience to get here again and do a little better," explained head coach Charlie Sullivan. "Overall, a really good season, a good performance, but we just needed a little more tonight unfortunately."
The Pride had two honorees to the EIVA All-Tournament Team as seniors Alberto Bravo and Cal Palumbo took home the impressive recognition. Palumbo capped off his career with yet another milestone as he became just the eighth player in program history to record 1,000 career kills. Needing eight coming into the match, the AVCA Division III National Player of the Year posted eight kills on 16 errorless attempts.
Bravo posted a team-best nine kills, while Greg Falcone chipped in with eight kills on 11 errorless, hitting .727, to go along with a match-high five blocks. Mike Becker handed out 28 assists and Nick Ferry tallied a team-best eight digs.
Senior Dennis Del Valle was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. He was joined on the all-tournament team by redshirt junior Joe Sunder, junior Ryan Wolf, Springfield's Palumbo and Bravo, Eric Lucas of George Mason and Jeff Zornig of Rutgers-Newark.
Sunder led the Nittany Lions with 13 kills, while Wolf and sophomore Tom Comfort had 11 apiece. Redshirt junior Edgardo Goas dished out 36 assists, while Del Valle had a match-high 14 digs. Sophomore Nick Turko had a team-best four blocks.
The Nittany Lions opened the match taking a 7-1 lead forcing a Springfield timeout. The Pride tallied two straight points before a 6-2 PSU run had Penn State leading 13-5 and Springfield heading back to the bench. The break failed to faze the Nittany Lions as their lead grew to nine, 17-8, after kills from Turko and Wolf. A kill by Palumbo sparked a 7-2 run that brought the Pride within four, 19-15. Penn State called a timeout and kills from Sunder, Turko and Comfort had Penn State back up by seven, 23-16. Two kills from Springfield's Bravo and two PSU errors held Penn State at set-point and had the Pride within four, 24-20. A Springfield service error gave set one to PSU, 25-20.
Penn State came out strong again in the second frame, taking a 5-1 lead, and Springfield burned a timeout early. The Nittany Lions maintained control and had a six-point advantage, 11-5, when Springfield called a second timeout. Penn State's momentum only continued to grow. With an eight-point lead, 18-10, a 3-0 run had Penn State's lead in double-digits, 21-10. The Pride registered two points, but an error prevented Springfield from embarking on a run. Penn State had a 22-13 lead when kills from Comfort and Wolf and a Springfield error secured set two for the Nittany Lions 25-14.
Springfield grabbed the early lead in the third and final stanza, 7-3, and Penn State would trail the Pride for almost the entirety of the set. Penn State called a timeout and fought to within three, 9-6. Springfield continued to control the set with the Nittany Lions coming no closer than two points, 18-16, near the midpoint of the set. A Sunder kill and a Springfield error had the Lions within one, 20-19, and the Pride calling a timeout. Sunder tied it up at 20-20 with a kill and Goas gave the Lions their first lead of the set with a kill. Penn State called a timeout and a block by Goas and sophomore Ian Hendries gave Penn State a two-point edge. However, the Pride didn't give up and pounded two kills and had a block to knot the score at 23-23. Penn State used its second timeout, but Jeff Gutmann put down a kill to put the Pride back in front, 24-23. Sunder posted back-to-back kills to move the Lions back into the lead, 25-24, before Wolf closed out the set and the match with a kill, 26-24.