Springfield, Mass. - February 6, 2014 - In a clash between a pair teams ranked in the top four in the latest national poll, the 4th-ranked Springfield College men's volleyball team bested No. 2 New Paltz in four sets on Thursday night. Springfield grinded out a 25-22, 20-25, 29-27, 25-23 victory.
Springfield improves to 6-4 with the win this evening, while the Hawks, playing in their home opener, lost for the first time this season to drop to 7-1.
Luis Vega (Corozal, Puerto Rico) was the difference in the match for Springfield as he pounded out a match-high 16 kills to go along with five blocks. Angel Perez (Naranjito, Puerto Rico) tallied 11 kills, seven digs, and four blocks, and Jimmy O'Leary (Reading, Pa.) produced eight kills, five blocks, and three aces while hitting .615. Keaton Pieper (Dallas, Texas) racked up 38 helpers and Nick Ferry (Valencia, Calif.) notched seven digs of his own.
New Paltz featured a balanced attack as in the starting lineup had at least seven kills. Sophomore middle blocker Christopher Husmann led the way with 11 and hit .444, while Tim Ferriter totaled 10 kills and fashioned a .304 hitting percentage. Sophomore setter Christian Smith and junior setter John Lutjen dished out 28 and 17 assists, respectively, while Lutjen added a match-high-tying seven digs. Blocking-wise, Husmann and freshman middle blocker C.J. Borfitz paced New Paltz with three total blocks each.
Springfield jumped out to a 7-3 lead to begin the match on a triple block from Vega, Pieper, and Shaun Ermi (Rush, N.Y.). The Hawks stormed back with an 8-3 push, forcing the Pride into a timeout trailing 11-10. Ryan Malone (Chicopee, Mass.) sided out for the Pride, and ripped an ensuing ace to give Springfield a lead it would not relinquish. Perez had four kills in the frame to pace the Pride, which won the set by a 25-22 score.
Behind .364 hitting in the second set coupled with Springfield's -.059 mark, the Hawks opened up an early lead, and despite a strong comeback attempt by the Pride, New Paltz wound up winning with set, 25-20. Facing a 17-10 deficit, Springfield showed some resilience to get within 20-16 following a Hawks service error, but the visitors couldn't complete their rally as the match was evened at a set apiece.
The Pride put together its best offensive performance of the match in the third set, registering 13 kills at a .417 clip and Vega was sensational, delivering seven kills at a .500 clip. Springfield was seemingly in control after Ermi and Vega teammed up for a block to make it a 21-17 game. The hosts roared back and earned a set point after a Smith kill brought the score to 26-25. A service error tied things at 26 and after the teams traded points, Vega hammered a ball to provide Springfield a set point. O'Leary came through from the service line the next point, registering a critical ace for the 29-27 win.
Four different players for Springfield had at least three kills in the fourth, including Perez who was dominant defensively with four blocks. Holding a 19-15 lead following a block from O'Leary and Pieper, Springfield fell victim to yet another New Paltz run, as a 6-2 push tied the set at 21. Borfitz put the Hawks on his back with three consecutive blocks in the spurt, only to have Malone crush a ball down the line to put the Pride back on top. O'Leary crushed a ball out of the middle for match point, and after a Pride attack error, Pieper notched his lone kill of the match for the four-set win.
The Pride will return to Blake Arena where it will host a tri-match on Saturday afternoon with Kean and Daniel Webster beginning at 4:00 pm.