The Pride, ranked second in the country in the latest AVCA Division III National Coaches Poll, has won 28 of its last 29 matches, and closed out the regular season with a 30-5 record.
Springfield will wait to see its postseason fate as it hopes to earn one of three at-large berths to the inaugural NCAA Division III Men's Volleyball Championship, which will be hosted April 27-29 at Springfield College. The nine-team field will be announced at 8:30 pm on the national selection show which will air on NCAA.com Sunday evening.
Angel Perez hit .460 on the night, totaling 12 kills, five digs, and two blocks, while fellow outside Mike Pelletier notched 12 kills, four digs, two blocks, and two aces. Alistair Matthews added nine kills, three aces, and two blocks. Out of the middle, Greg Falcone had six kills and seven blocks and Jimmy O'Leary chipped in with seven kills and five blocks.
Junior Matt Hohenberger amassed a match-high 27 kills on a .512 hitting performance. Junior Ken Siebert added nine kills and four aces as senior David Thomas posted six kills and five digs. Hohenberger and senior Jeremy Velazquez both collected five digs while Vatterott finished with two blocks. Sophomore Paul Syta totaled 39 assists and nine digs.
The majority of the first set was tightly played as it featured 10 ties and four lead changes. With the score knotted at 16, Springfield generated a 4-1 spurt to gain some breathing room, but MIT picked up two of the next three points to stay close at 21-19. The Pride countered with three kills from Perez and an ace Matthews to win the set.
The Engineers slowly inched out to an 11-7 lead in the second stanza; however, the Pride battled back and evened the set at 15 on a block by Matthews and Pelletier. MIT responded with a 9-4 run which resulted in set point and a timeout by Springfield. Following the break, the visitors capitalized on a Perez strike and a hitting error to extend the frame, but a serving error clinched the victory for the Engineers.
Trailing 8-5 in the third set, the Pride called a timeout and then registered four straight points to reclaim the lead. Five ties and two lead changes would follow until Falcone put Springfield in front, 15-13, courtesy of a block and a kill. A miscue cut MIT’s deficit in half but the Pride went on to build a 24-19 advantage. A Springfield serving error and a strike by freshman Alex Klein kept the Cardinal and Gray alive; however, O'Leary thwarted the late rally with a kill of his own.
Springfield jumped out to a 6-2 lead in the final frame which later grew to 14-9. The Engineers continued to attack, narrowing the gap to two on two occasions, the last at 16-14 on a block by junior Patrick Vatterott. The Pride picked up four of the next five points but a hitting error and a Klein kill kept MIT within striking distance at 20-17. Springfield replied with a match-ending 5-1 run capped by a block from Falcone and Pelletier.