Springfield, Mass. - February 1, 2013 - The Springfield College men's volleyball team swept rival Juniata to advance to its second-consecutive Volleyball Hall of Fame Morgan Classic Championship on Friday evening in front of 1,300 fans in Blake Arena. The Pride cruised to a 25-15, 25-20, 25-21 victory.
Springfield will square off against Loyola tomorrow evening at 8 pm. Meanwhile, Juniata will take on Harvard in the consolation match at 6 pm. Loyola advanced by virtue of a 23-25, 25-18, 25-21, 25-18 win over the Crimson.
Springfield 3, Juniata 0
The match featured two of the most decorated Division III men's volleyball programs in the country as the two squads have combined to win 11 of the last 12 national championships. The Pride entered the match ranked No. 1 in this week's AVCA National Poll, while the Eagles were ranked third.
Springfield's Alistair Matthews registered a match-high 14 kills, while Jimmy O’Leary dominated the middle, hammering nine kills on 11 errorless attempts, to go along with four blocks and two aces. Mike Pelletier chipped in eight kills and two aces, and Mike Becker finished with 31 assists as the Pride hit .390 for the match. Nick Ferry joined Matthews with a match-best eight digs.
Juniata struggled with ball control all night, falling prey to 10 Springfield aces. Paul Kuhn totaled a team-best 11 kills, and Rob Strauss totaled 21 helpers and five digs. Juniata was held to a .173 hitting percentage for the match.
Playing in front of its home crowd for the first time since claiming the 2012 NCAA Division III National Championship last April, the Pride fed off the crowd’s energy in the early going. After O’Leary put away an overpass, Springfield owned an early 12-7 advantage as the Eagles called their first timeout of the set.
Using tough serving, Springfield continued to control the tempo of the match, and following a long rally, Matthews hammered the ball down the line to give the hosts a 19-3 lead. A Juniata service error, their fourth of the set gave Springfield a 25-15 win.
Matthews was dominant for the Pride in the second set, producing seven of Springfield’s 13 kills. The frame proved to be the closet of the match, as it featured nine ties and four lead changes. Kuhn tallied a kill for the visitors to give them a 16-15 cushion, only to have Springfield answer with a 3-0 burst to take a18-16 lead. Kuhn answered with another kill out of a timeout, but the hosts seized control for good with a 4-0 spurt as it went on to the take second, 25-20.
In the third, consecutive aces from Greg Falcone allowed Springfield to race out to a 10-4 lead. The Pride’s lead grew to as many as eight at 17-9 after a Falcone kill, but the visitors battled back to get within three at 21-18. In fitting fashion, Falcone closed the door on the match with his fourth kill of the stanza en route to a 25-21 win.
Loyola 3, Harvard 1
Thomas Jaeschke led Loyola with 13 kills as his squad improved their record 6-5 while Harvard University dropped to 3-2 on the season.
Jaeschke topped Loyola with 13 kills with 24 attempts swinging .500 percent, while Joseph Smalzer, a 6-8 junior, produced with 11 kills. Trevor Novotny provided a huge spark off the bench, adding 10 kills at a .500 clip. Jaeschke also led the team in digs with nine and Peter Jasaitis followed up with eight digs of his own. Diego Rodriguez tallied 46 assists which was the match-high.
For Harvard University Branden Clemens led his team with 15 kills swinging at a .417 clip. Behind him was Michael Owen and Kyle Rehkemper, who recorded 10 kills apiece. Senior setter Rob Lothman had 38 assists for Harvard University.
As a team Loyola University was hitting .360 percent which propelled to a victory. Harvard hit .278.
The Ramblers had a total of 9 aces as their opponent Harvard recorded just three. Loyola last played in the Classic in 2000, when it won the consolation.