SPRINGFIELD, Mass., February 9, 2007 – Springfield College junior All-American Eric Palumbo (Chili, N.Y.) totaled a match-high five service aces to go along with 10 kills and one block for a team-best 15.5 total points as the No. 5 Pride upset Division II University of California, San Diego, 3-0, this evening in the opening round of the 2007 Volleyball Hall of Fame Morgan Classic at Blake Arena.
For SC, which improves its overall record to 8-4 on the season, it marks the first Morgan Classic victory since its 2001 win over Mercyhurst College (3-1). The Tritons of UCSD fall to 3-7 on the year with the loss.
In earlier action this evening, Ball State University knocked off Rutgers-Newark by a 3-0 (30-27, 30-18, 30-18) margin to move into the championship match where it will face the Pride. SC and Ball State will vie for the 20th annual Morgan Classic crown tomorrow night (Feb. 10) at 8:00 p.m. Rutgers-Newark and UCSD will meet in the consolation match at 6:00 p.m.
The Pride opened up this evening’s match on a tear, building a five-point lead (10-5) on a kill from freshman outside hitter AJ Nally (Rochester, N.Y.). UCSD recovered quickly, however, going on a 5-0 run to tie the first game at 10 apiece. The game was neck-and-neck for the rest of the way, with neither team leading by more than three points. With the score tied at 32-all, two Triton attacking errors lifted SC to the crucial 34-32 game one win.
Game two was all Palumbo, as the junior outside hitter totaled five service aces in the 30-17 victory. With the Pride leading 24-16, Palumbo ran off four consecutive service aces to give SC a commanding 28-16 advantage. He also added four kills for nine total points all coming in game two.
In game three, sophomore All-American Ryan Fredrickson (Manahawkin, N.J.) and junior middle blocker Dave Smietana (Buffalo, N.Y.) registered three blocks each as the Pride cruised to the 30-18 win. For the match, Fredrickson led all players with 10 blocks to go along with eight kills for 13 points. Sophomore All-American Andy Sipe (New Oxford, Pa.) had seven blocks and seven kills for 10.5 points, and Smietana chipped in with seven blocks of his own. SC’s Nally racked up a match-best 10 digs.
UCSD was led by freshman outside hitter Will Ehrman with a match-high 14 kills to add to his four digs, two service aces and two blocks. Sophomore libero Eric Leserman paced the Tritons with seven digs. Senior setter Brooks Dierdorff and freshman middle blocker Adrian Guthals each contributed with four blocks.
Pride junior setter Chris Shekell (Rochester, N.Y.) tallied a match-high 31 assists and UCSD’s Dierdorff totaled 27 for the visiting Tritons.
Ball State University 3, Rutgers-Newark 0:
Ball State University senior outside hitter Nick Meyer totaled a match-high 21 kills on 29 swings with just four errors for a solid .586 hitting percentage as the Cardinals downed Rutgers-Newark, 3-0, in the evening’s opening match.
Ball State improves to 5-4 overall on the season with the 30-27, 30-18, 30-18 victory. The Scarlet Raiders of Rutgers-Newark fall to 2-6 overall on the year. The Cardinals were also paced by sophomore outside hitter Todd Chamberlain with 13 kills on 20 swings and just three errors for a .500 hitting percentage to go along with four blocks. Senior middle blocker Doug Willmann led the match with eight blocks.
Rutgers-Newark jumped out early on the Cardinals in game one, taking an 8-3 lead on a kill from freshman outside hitter Nate Stott. The Scarlet Raiders kept up their advantage throughout most of the opening game, leading by four (21-17) before Ball State made its run. The Cardinals erased the four-point deficit with a 4-0 streak and ended up edging Rutgers-Newark for the 30-27 win.
In games two and three it was a healthy does of Meyer and Chamberlain for Ball State which proved to be the difference. The outside hitters led the Cardinals with a combined 39 points for the match. Willmann provided a spark at the net as well, contributing with 8.5 points of his own in blocking eight balls and adding four kills.
Rutgers-Newark was led by senior outside hitter Eric Honsberger with 14 kills. Honsberger also tallied two assisted blocks for a team-best 15 points. Sophomore setter Mark Hulse recorded 26 assists and led the Scarlet Raiders with six digs and six blocks. Senior middle hitter Clinton Haugan and freshman middle hitter Jon Keller each totaled four blocks in the match.