CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – In the regular-season finale for both teams, nationally-ranked No. 2 Springfield College battled No. 9 MIT for a 25-19, 21-25, 25-21, 25-18 victory in men's volleyball action on Saturday night. The Engineers (27-8) and the Pride (30-5) hope to earn one of three at-large slots for the inaugural NCAA Division III Men's Volleyball Tournament. The national selection show for the nine-team field will air on Sunday, April 15 at 8:30 p.m. on www.ncaa.com.
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 freshman Angel Perez (Naranjito, Puerto Rico) and an ace by junior Alistair Matthews (Freehold, N.J.) 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 junior Mike Pelletier (Burnt Hills, N.Y.). 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 junior Greg Falcone (Lindenhurst, N.Y.) 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 (San Diego, Calif.) kept the Cardinal and Gray alive; however, sophomore Jimmy O'Leary (Reading, Pa.) 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 (St. Louis, Mo.). 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.
Junior Matt Hohenberger (St. Louis, Mo.) amassed a match-high 27 kills on a .512 hitting performance, breaking the MIT record for kills in a four-set match. His total also put him over the 1,000-kill mark which made him the fifth player in program history to achieve this milestone. Sophomore Ken Siebert (St. Louis, Mo.) added nine kills and four aces as senior David Thomas (Carlsbad, Calif.) posted six kills and five digs. Hohenberger and senior Jeremy Velazquez (Chelmsford, Mass.) both collected five digs while Vatterott finished with two blocks. Sophomore Paul Syta (Fairport, N.Y.) totaled 39 assists and nine digs as classmate Evan Wang (Saratoga, Calif.) dished out five assists.
Pelletier compiled 12 kills, four digs, two blocks, and two aces while Perez racked up 12 kills, five digs, and two blocks. Matthews recorded nine kills, three aces, and two blocks as O'Leary notched seven kills and five blocks. Falcone rounded out the front row for Springfield with seven blocks and six kills.