Springfield, Mass. - April 23, 2011 - Led by Alberto Bravo's match-high 24 kills, the third-seeded Springfield College men's volleyball team downed rival and sixth-seeded Juniata College in five sets in the EIVA Tournament Quarterfinals on Saturday afternoon in Blake Arena. The Pride was victorious 25-23, 25-19, 20-25, 22-25, 15-13.
Springfield, which is now 17-14 on the year, will advance to take on George Mason on April 28 in the EIVA Tournament Semifinals at Penn State. The Eagles season comes to a close with an 18-12 record.
Bravo put on yet another masterful performance in the final match of his career in Blake Arena. The senior pounded out 24 kills at a .400 clip to go along with six digs, five blocks, and an ace. Classmate Cal Palumbo put on an equally impressive showing as he notched 12 kill, hitting .625 while racking up four blocks. Fellow middle Greg Falcone added 12 kills hitting .526 while adding four blocks and two aces. Mike Becker delivered 59 assists as Springfield hit .407 for the match. Nick Ferry added a match-high eight digs.
For the visiting Eagles, Alex McColgin was outstanding, producing 20 kills at a .562 clip, while Chris Vrooman added 12 kills and two aces. Ben Wolff led Juniata with five blocks, and Mike Kraft handed out 43 assists as the visitors hit .300 for the contest.
After getting off to a slow start to begin the match, Bravo found his rhythm in the opening set as he paced Springfield to an opening set win. After a McColgin kill evened things early at eight, Springfield scored the next two points as it snagged a two-point lead it would not surrender. The Pride's lead grew to three on a pair of occassions, the last coming at 22-19 after Palumbo and Bravo combined for a double block. The Eagles climbed within one after a Vrooman ace, which forced a Springfield timeout at 22-21. Consecutive kills from Palumbo and Coen gave the hosts set point, but a kill from McColgin and ace from serving sub John Alquist made it 24-23. Bravo put the hosts on his back as he crushed a cross court kill to give as Springfield won 25-23. As a team, Springfield hit .480 in the game as Bravo registered six kills.
Springfield limited Juniata to a .000 hitting percentage in the second and hit .524 themselves as the snagged a 2-0 set lead. Leading 17-16, Springfield opened up a 4-1 burst, capped off by a huge block from Falcone and Bravo to take a 21-17 and force Juniata into a timeout. A kill from Jeff Gutmann after a long rally allowed Springfield to take a 23-18 which later turned into a 25-19 win after Juniata's seventh attack error of the frame. Falcone came alive in the second as he registered seven of his 12 kills.
McColgin hammered eight kills in the third as he brought Juniata within a set. The visitors raced out to a 10-4 lead following a Springfield error and used a blistering .565 attack percentage to keep Springfield at bay. A kill from Bravo got Springfield within four at 13-9, but the Eagles lead ballooned to eight at 24-16 after a solo stuff by Wolff. The Pride showed some grit down the stretch as it got within four at 24-20, but a service error allowed Juniata its first set win.
Trailing 13-10 in the fourth, Juniata eventually tied the set at 14-all following a big triple block by Ross Madden, John Prout, and McColgin. The Eagles would use their block in a big spot once again as a double block from Kraft and Wolff gave the visitors their first lead of the game at 17-16. Gutmann's float serve would be good enough for an ace as the Pride took a 20-18 lead, but Juniata scored the next three points, capped off by a McColgin kill to regain a 21-10 lead. Bravo's cross court kill gave Springfield a 22-21 lead, only to have Juniata score the final four points of the set as Prout came up big with two blocks to force a fifth set. The Pride hit .just .160 in the game and committed seven attack errors.
Bravo put the team on his back in the fifth as he racked up three consecutive kills to start the stanza as the teams were even at three. Juniata would eventually take a 9-8 lead after a Vrooman kill, a lead that would prove to be their final of the season. A sideout kill from Bravo evened the set, only to have Coen's float serve paint the back line as Springfield opened up a 10-9 lead. The lead would grow to three at 12-9 following a thunderous block by Falcone and Bravo, but Juniata would battle to get within 14-13 following McColgin's 20th kill. Bravo then ended the match in fitting fashion as he ripped a kill off the block to give Springfield a 15-13 win.