Springfield, Mass. -- February 10, 2012 -- The Springfield College and Lees-McRae College men's volleyball teams tonight defeated their California opponents to reach the final of the 2012 Volleyball Hall of Fame/Morgan Classic. It is only the fifth time in the 25 years of this tournament that Springfield has reach the final.
In the second match of the evening, Springfield used a great rally in game #2 as a springboard for a 3-1 victory over UC-Santa Cruz. Game scores were 25-18, 27-25, 17-25, 25-19. With the win, the Pride, ranked #2 nationally, now raises its record to 7-4, while the Banana Slugs, ranked #3 nationally, fall to 2-2.
It is also the first time in five years that Springfield has even reached the final. The last time that occurred was in 2007 when Ball State won the crown, 3-1, over SC.
Springfield will be attempting to win its first ever VB Hall of Fame/Morgan Classic tomorrow evening at 8 pm. Meanwhile, UC-Santa Cruz will take on Cal Baptist in the consolation match at 6 pm.
Match #1 -- Lees-McRae 3, Cal Baptist 1
Springfield, Mass. -- February 10, 2012 -- The Lees-McRae College men's volleyball team tonight defeated defending champion Cal Baptist University, 3-1, in match #1 of the Volleyball Hall of Fame/Morgan Classic at Springfield College's Blake Arena. Jose Ribas led the Bobcats with 22 kills. Scores for Lees-McRae were 25-23, 19-25, 25-21, 26-24
With the victory, Lees-McRae is now 4-3, while the Lancers of Cal Baptist fall to 2-9. It was the fourth straight loss for Cal Baptist on its week-long East Coast road trip.
Lees-McRae is a Presbyterian-affiliated college located in far western North Carolina very near the border of Tennessee. It is making is first trip to the Morgan Classic, now in its 25th year. Last year, Cal Baptist defeated the University of the Pacific (3-0) in the championship match to capture the Volleyball Hall of Fame/Morgan Classic.
Ribas, a 6-7 sophomore outside hitter from Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, topped Lees-McRae with 22 kills in a match-high 47 swings for a .277 hitting percentage. Behind him were 6-4 sophomore outside hitter Chris Flood (Louisville, Ky.) and 6-7 opposite John Lucas (Cincinnati, Oh.) with eight kills each. Freshman middle blocker Joshua Jones (Christmas, Fla.) followed with seven kills.
Sophomore defensive specialist Efrain Negron (Orlando, Fla.) led his squad with 13 digs. Randy Ramirez, a 6-3 sophomore setter from Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, had a match-high 46 set assists.
For Cal Baptist of Riverside, Calif., 6-6 freshman outside hitter Corey Bates (Melbourne, Australia) led his team with 12 kills and a .333 hitting percentage. Daniel Freitas, a 6-5 junior outside hitter from Torrance, Calif., was next with nine kills and a .333 hitting percentage. Daniel Casper, a 5-10 freshman libero from Menomine, Wisc., topped the Lancers with nine digs.
Sophomore setter Connor Metcalfe (Las Vegas, Nev.) had 32 set assists for Cal Baptist.
Despite hitting just .152 as a team, Lees-McRae came up the victor. Cal Baptist hit .171.
Ribas had six kills in game #1, while Lucas followed with four for Lees-McRae. Bates had five kills in game #2 for Cal Baptist.
In game #3, it was Ribas again leading with five kills for the Bobcats. And Ribas ended with a flourish, delivering eight kills to wrap it up in game #4.
Match #2 -- Springfield 3, UC-Santa Cruz 1
In match #2, featuring two of the top three ranked teams in the nation in Division III, the homestanding Pride edged the Banana Slugs of UC-Santa Cruz, 3-1. Game scores were 25-18, 27-25, 17-25, 25-19.
SC is now 7-4 overall, while UC-Santa Cruz levels its record at 2-2.
Springfield relied on a variety of heroes, including three players with double-figure totals in kills. That included freshman outside hitter Angel Perez (Naranjito, Puerto Rico) with 15 kills, and junior outside hitter Mike Pelletier (Burnt Hills, N.Y.) and sophomore middle blocker Jimmy O'Leary (Reading, Pa.)with 11 kills apiece.
For UC-Santa Cruz, junior outside hitter Mauro Salinas (San Leandro, Calif.) led with 12 kills and a .310 hitting percentage. He was followed by 6-10 senior middle blocker Thomas Davidson (Sunnyvale, Calif.) with 11 kills and a .500 hitting percentage. Davidson committed just two errors in 18 swings.
Springfield wound up hitting .227 as a team in this match, while UC-Santa Cruz hit .178.
The Pride had control of the first game throughout, hitting .206, while the Banana Slugs could hit only at an .069 clip.
It was game number #2 that proved to be key. SC trailed 23-17 and 24-21, before rallying to tie at 24-all. UC-Santa Cruz then took a 25-24 lead, only to see SC score the last three points to win that game.
The Banana Slugs took quick command of game #3, and never let up.
It was just the opposite in game #4, as SC took a quick 6-1 edge, forcing the Californians to call a timeout. The Pride managed to maintain control for the remainder of the contest to win it.
Freshman setter Keaton Pieper (Ketering, Oh.) had 44 set assists for SC. Pelletier led the Pride with 12 digs.
For UC-Santa Cruz, senior setter Paul Leon (Laguna Niguel, Calif.) led with 39 set assists. Senior opposite Shane Yablonka (Orange, Calif.) led all players in this match with 13 digs.