SPRINGFIELD, Mass., March 24, 2007 – Springfield College freshman outside hitter AJ Nally (Rochester, N.Y.) recorded a career-best 28 kills on 47 swings with just six errors for an impressive .468 hitting percentage, but it was the No. 1 Juniata College Eagles which edged the fifth-ranked Pride, 3-2 (30-25, 26-30, 23-30, 30-28, 15-12), this evening at Blake Arena. Nally also added 12 digs, two blocks and 30 total points.
Despite the loss, which drops SC to 16-7 overall on the season, the Pride has earned a berth into the EIVA Division III Championship at Juniata College on the weekend of Friday, April 6th. Since Juniata is also the host for the Molten Division III Championship on the weekend of Friday, April 13th, SC now automatically becomes the EIVA representative at the Molten Championship because of its second-place finish this season.
The Eagles (12-5) were led by junior outside hitter Matt Fritz with 28 kills (.420 hitting percentage), five blocks, three service aces and a match-high 33.5 total points. Senior outside hitter Nate Ocasio added 19 kills and two service aces, and classmate Glenn DeHaven chipped in with 14 kills and three digs. Senior libero Steve Yeager racked up a match-best 17 digs.
For the Pride, sophomore All-American Andy Sipe (New Oxford, Pa.) led all players with seven blocks. The middle blocker also had 11 kills. Sophomore All-American Ryan Fredrickson (Manahawkin, N.J.) added 14 kills, six digs and three blocks, and junior middle blocker Dave Smietana (Buffalo, N.Y.) was the fourth member of SC to add double-figure kills with 11. Junior outside hitter Javier Rosario (San Juan, Puerto Rico) paced the Pride in digs with 16.
After Juniata captured game one by a 30-25 margin, SC responded by winning two straight games, 30-26 and 30-23. In the fourth frame, the Pride appeared in control when it owned a 24-20 lead. The Eagles would not give up that easily, however, rallying to take game four (30-28) and then the match, with a 15-12 final game victory.