Springfield, Mass. - April 9, 2011 - Led by Alberto Bravo's match-high 21 kills, the Springfield College men's volleyball team closed out its regular season with a four-game victory over Rutgers-Newark in EIVA Tait Conference play on Saturday afternoon. The Pride won 25-21, 22-25, 25-21, 25-18.
With the victory, Springfield clinches the No. 3 seed in the upcoming EIVA Division I Tournament. The Pride will square off against rival and sixth-seeded Juniata on April 23. The winner will advance to regional final four hosted at Penn State.
The Pride now stand at 15-13, 4-6 in league play, while the Scarlet Raiders fall to 15-10, 4-6.
Bravo continued to play tremendous for Springfield as he totaled 21 kills at a .500 clip to go along with three blocks. Mike Pelletier had another strong showing at the pin as he racked up 12 kills while hitting .524, and Greg Falcone posted eight kills on 11 errorless swings, hitting .727 on the afternoon to go along with his team-best four blocks. Mike Becker handed out 47 assists as he led Springfield to its best hitting performance of the season, hitting .462 for the match. Becker also ripped four of Springfield's nine aces in the match. Freshmen classmates Tommy Crow and Nick Ferry each dug seven balls.
Both Grant Metheny and Marcin Midura registered 13 kills to pace the visitors. Setter Jeff Zorning finished the match with 36 assists, five blocks, five kills, and four aces. As a team, the Scarlet Raiders hit .276 and tallied eight service aces.
Springfield raced out to a 7-2 lead in the first game after Falcone and Bravo combined for back-to-back blocks to force a Rutgers timeout. The Scarlet Raiders battled back to get within two at 15-13 after Metheny ripped an ace, but the Pride's lead would grow to as many as six after another Bravo kill made it 22-16. Seeminly in control, Springfield let Rutgers back in the set and a Metheny kill made it 23-21 as Springfield called a timeout. Out of the break, consecutive kills from Pelletier allowed Springfield to take game one, 25-21.
In the second, a Bravo kill put the hosts up 15-13, but Rutgers stormed past the Pride to take a 21-16 lead. Zorning posted a pair of blocks and three-straight aces to fuel Rutgers 8-1 spurt. Another ace by Becker brought Springfield within one at 23-22, but a kill from Midura and a double block by Zorning and Brett Pickens evened the match at a game apiece. Bravo led Springfield's offense in the set with seven kills.
With the third set even at nine, Springfield rattled off a 6-1 burst capped off by solo block by Cal Palumbo to force a Rutgers timeout with the score 15-10. Rutgers would answer to get within two at 16-14, but that would be as close as the visitors would get as Bravo's fifth kill of the set gave Springfield a 2-1 set advantage.
For the second-straight match, Springfield was unstoppable in the fourth as it .652, totaling 15 kills on 23 errorless attempts. Even at seven, Springfield opened up an 11-4 run to take a commanding 18-11 lead which it would not relinquish. Falcone came alive in the fourth with four kills while Bravo tacked on five.
Springfield, which will now prepare to make a run at its seventh national championship next weekend at the Molten Division III Invitational National Championship, which will be hosted by Nazareth College in Rochester, N.Y. on April 15-16.