The Pride will open up it's season on Tuesday, January 20 in Blake Arena against 14-ranked MIT. The last time of the Pride played in front of its home fans, Springfield won the Molten National Championship over Vassar in three games behind a terrific team effort last April.
Springfield earned 238 points, including 15 first place votes, and was followed by UC Santa Cruz with 214 points and the other first place vote. National runner-up Vassar (204), Juniata (190), and NYU (182) rounded out the top five.
The 2009 edition of the Pride looks very similar to last year's national championship unit, as head coach Charlie Sullivan returns five of seven starters this season.
Embarking on his final season in Maroon and White, senior middle blocker Andy Sipe returns as one of only two returning three-time All-Americans in the country. Last season, Sipe recorded 161 kills at a .382 clip and led the team with 117 blocks, averaging 1.31 per game. Joining Sipe in the middle will be the 2008 AVCA Newcomer of the Year and All-American, Cal Palumbo. Palumbo made his mark on the volleyball scene last year as he recorded 103 blocks and 227 kills. Palumbo hit .422 for the year and owned one of the highest hitting percentages in Division III.
Last year's Molten Championship Most Valuable Player Eric Shoemaker returns for the Pride at setter and will direct of the offense once again. Last season, Shoemaker finished the season with 911 assists, averaging 11.25 per game.
Returning swing hitters for the Pride include AJ Nally, who led the team in kills (308), digs (204), and aces (31) a year ago. Ryan Fredrickson, who finished second on the squad with 264 kills and added 62 total blocks, will bolster the Pride attack at opposite.