Kenosha, Wisc. - April 16, 2010 - Cal Palumbo pounded out 13 kills, hitting .524, to go along with seven blocks to lead the Springfield College men's volleyball team past host Carthage College, 3-0, in the semifinals of the 2010 Molten Division III Men's Invitational Volleyball Championship on Friday evening.
The Pride won by the set scores of 30-22, 30-22, 30-28 to advance to Saturday's national championship match against top-seeded UC Santa Cruz. Second-seeded Springfield and top-seeded Santa Cruz will battle for the national championship on Saturday evening at 8:00 pm. The Pride will be vying for its sixth national championship, including its second in the last three years.
AVCA National Player of the Year AJ Nally finished the match with a team-best 14 kills to go along with nine digs and four blocks. Alberto Bravo chipped in with 13 kills, six digs, and three aces, while Eric Shoemaker handed out 46 assists while posting seven blocks of his own. Alex Harrison recorded a career-best 16 digs, and Mike Pelletier added 11 digs as well.
Matt Wallace led the Red Men with 14 kills and a .379 attack percentage, while Randy Hansen had 10 kills in the loss.
The Pride set the tone in the opening set as it jumped out to a 7-0 lead with Bravo at the service line. The hosts rallied back to close to within three, 13-10 and got within one point, 18-17, before the Pride upped their lead to 22-18. Springfield pulled away to a 27-19 edge en route to an eight-point decision, 30-22 after Palumbo bounced home an overpass kill for the first set win. Bravo keyed a pair of key runs for the Pride at the service line, while Palumbo notched five kills on six-errorless swings.
In the second set, Carthage opened up an early 8-7 lead, only to have Palumbo convert another overpass kill to force a Red Men timeout at 15-11. Carthage closed to within three, 18-15, before the Pride pulled away to a 27-19 lead, en route to another eight-point win, 30-22, as Bravo provided the visitors a two-set lead after crushing another kill.
In the third and final set, Springfield opened up a 13-8 lead in the third set before Carthage ran off six unanswered points to take a 14-13 lead. The Red Men led, 18-15, when the Pride ran off five-straight points to go up, 20-18,. Springfield extended its lead to 25-19, as it won a key rally after Nally made several incredible digs to keep the rally alive. Carthage rallied to pull to within one, 29-28, only to have Nally bury a ball down on the line transition to complete the Pride's three-game sweep.
Springfield will now look to avenge its 3-0 loss to UC Santa Cruz in its first match of the season on January 15 in California.