Springfield, Mass. - January 24, 2012 - The Springfield College men's volleyball team grinded out a five-set victory over visiting Sacred Heart in Blake Arena in the Pride's home opener on Tuesday evening. Springfield prevailed by the set scores of 25-20, 22-25, 25-21, 20-25, 15-13.
Springfield picked up its first victory of the season to improve to 1-3, while the Pioneers are now 0-3.
Tyler Tanaka finished the night with a team-best 10 kills at a .368 clip to go along with six digs, while Jimmy O'Leary notched nine kills while hitting .571 while posting four blocks. Mike Pelletier tallied seven kills and seven digs, and Mike Becker handed out 38 assists as Springfield hit .306 for the night.
Nick Hunt had a standout match for the visitors, totaling a match-best 21 kills. Bradley Borsay added 18 kills and Enzo Mackenzie registered 15 kills while hitting .400 with a match-high nine digs. John Lutjen delivered 49 assists and Mike Komlanc was credited with four blocks.
The Pride roared out to a 9-3 in the opening set as an Evan Acanfora kill forced the Pioneers into the timeout. The visitors regrouped and answered with a 7-1 burst, using a double block from Mackenzie and Komlanc to even the game at 10 apiece. As they would the entire evening, Springfield used another big run to gain control, this time pouring on an 8-2 spurt, using another Acanfora kill to push the score to 18-12, as SHU took their second timeout. The Pioneers got as close as three at 23-20, only to have kills from Angel Perez and Pelletier close out the frame.
Springfield's offense came out clicking in the second, connecting on seven kills on its first 11 swings without committing an error. However, the Sacred Heart attack was equally as impressive as it posted 19 kills in the set at a .500 clip. After Hunt manufactured a kill off the block to put SHU up 13-11, the Pride event things at 14-all on another Tanaka kill. From there, the Pioneers scored four of the set’s next five points, using another Hunt kill after a back-and-forth rally to take control at 18-15. Springfield would get as close two four times, but Borsay came up big on set point to even the match.
Up 9-3 early in the third, Springfield scored four unanswered, highlighted by a huge ace from Becker to snag a 13-8 cushion. The Pride's lead would grow to as many as seven, going up 21-14 after Pelletier muscled a kill through the block, which forced Sacred Heart into its first timeout of the game. The Pioneers clawed within three at 24-21 after a Jason Kinney kill, but a service error on the ensuing play gave Springfield a 2-1 lead.
After opening the set with the first two points, Springfield surrendered the game’s next five, with the Pioneers using two kills from Hunt and a pair of aces from Mackenzie to take a quick 5-2 lead. O’Leary would even things at 10-all, but a 5-1 push from the Pioneers forced the Pride into its second timeout. Springfield would get within two at 19-17 following a service error, but three straight points, including a big block by Hunt and Komlanc, allowed Sacred Heart to take a 22-17 lead. The Pioneers took the set 25-20 and forced a fifth and decisive set as it posted 15 kills in the game, overcoming Springfield hitting .500 for the stanza.
Springfield dropped the opening point of the fifth, but reeled off the next three, including huge block from O’Leary and John Coen. The Pioneers would battle back to take a 10-9 lead, only to have Springfield respond with three straight points, capped off by a double from from O'Leary and Pelletier, as SHU took a timeout. The Pioneers staved off set point on a Borsay kill, only to have Coen and O'Leary team up once again for the big stuff to complete the victory.
The Pride will play its first match against a Division III opponent on Friday evening when it hosts Endicott at 7:00 pm.