Springfield, Mass. - March 26, 2013 - The Springfield College men's volleyball team picked up a key in-region victory over Rivier College in straight sets Tuesday evening in Blake Arena. The Pride improved to 20-3 on the year with the 25-13, 26-24, 25-22 win.
The match pitted a pair of nationally ranked teams, with the 15th-ranked Raiders dropping to 16-11. This week, Springfield was once again ranked No. 2 in the country according to the AVCA National Coaches Poll.
John Coen had a match-high 10 kills, while Mike Pelletier added nine kills at a .421 clip. Both Jimmy O'Leary and Greg Falcone had eight kills hitting .538, with Falcone posting a match-best five blocks. Mike Becker delivered 36 assists, and Nick Ferry recorded nine digs to lead the defensive effort.
For Rivier, Chris Markuson led the way with eight kills, and Aaron Almario totaled seven kills and three blocks. Steve Visentin handed out 26 assists and had seven digs, and Nick Ochoa highlighted the Raider defense with nine digs of his own.
Springfield hit .318 in the match, while Rivier was limited to just a .137 attack percentage. Both teams ranked in the top three in the country in blocks per set, and Springfield owned a slight 9-7 edge in team blocks for the contest.
The Pride opened up a 10-4 lead in the opening set, Luis Vega hammered a ball down with no block up to force Rivier into a timeout. O'Leary kept things rolling with an ace out of the break and the Springfield offense didn't let up as it hit .611 in the frame, totaling 11 kills on 18 errorless attempts. Springfield led by 12 as many in the set, with Pelletier sealing the win with his fourth kill of the set at 25-13
Capitalizing on some early Springfield miscues, the Raiders jumped out to a 7-3 advantage in the second set. After head coach Charlie Sullivan burned a timeout, the Pride responded with a 5-1 push, thanks to four Rivier attack errors. Springfield gained its first lead of the frame at 10-9 on a swing by Coen down the line and had its lead grow to 17-14 on a big kill out of the middle by O'Leary. Rivier pushed back once again, using a kill off the Springfield block by Spellman to put the Raiders on top 23-22. However, O'Leary came through down the stretch, putting down a pair of kills to go up 25-24, and Pelletier converted out of the back row for the 26-24 victory.
Springfield used another Vega kill to creep out to a 7-4 advantage to begin the third. The Raiders roared back to a 7-1 burst, with Almario controlling the middle with a pair of big blocks to give the Raiders an 11-8 advantage. Rivier continued to dictate the set and opened up a 17-13 on a cross-court kill from Markuson. Springfield answered back with a huge run of their own, scoring nine of the next 10 points as consecutive kills from Coen gave the hosts a 22-18 lead. Almario's serve clipped the tape for an ace to get Rivier within 23-22, but a Falcone kill and a timely block from Pelletier and O'Leary capped off the sweep.
The Pride will host the Springfield College Invitational this weekend as it hosts Lesley, Rutgers Newark, Southern Vermont, and Sage over Friday and Saturday.