Rochester, N.Y. - April 26, 2013 - Led by a match-high 15 kills from senior right side John Coen, the Springfield College men's volleyball team advanced past Kean University in three sets in the 2013 NCAA Division III Men's Volleyball Championship Quarterfinals in Kindara Gymnasium on the campus of Nazareth College.
The Pride won by the set scores of 25-16, 25-22, 25-17 and will play the winner of Baruch and Stevens in the national semifinals on Saturday at 4:00 pm.
Springfield, who was ranked No. 1 in the nation this week, improves to 30-3 on the season and had now won 24-straight matches.
Kean, which season to a close with a 26-7 record, advanced to play Springfield after sweeping Endicott last Saturday in the NCAA play-in contest. This marked just the second time the Cougars were swept all season, the last coming by Springfield three months to the day on January 26th at the Golden Dome Classic at Rutgers Newark.
Coen was tremendous, hitting .500 in the game, to go along with five digs, while Luis Vega added nine kills and two aces. Mike Pelletier chipped in eight kills, four digs, three blocks, and two aces, and Mike Becker and Keaton Pieper shared the setting duties, totaling 39 assists in leading Springfield to a .413 hitting percentage. Defensively, Nick Ferry was outstanding, producing a match-high 11 digs.
Steve Vahalla registered 13 of the Cougars 25 kills in the match, hitting .357, while Ron Dunn had 18 assists, three blocks, three aces, and five digs. Kean hit .232 in the loss.
Playing in its first match in nearly two weeks, it took Springfield some time to shake off some rust. In the opening set, the Pride was able to gain its first cushion of the afternoon at 7-4 following a Coen kill off the block and an ace by Pelletier.
Springfield’s lead increased to 10-5 after a Jimmy O’Leary ace and the Pride continued to put the pressure on the Cougars, forcing a timeout as Pelletier crushed an overpass kill, at 14-8. The lead ballooned to 20-11 on another Pelletier ace, before Vega’s serve found the back corner for an ace, eventually setting up a 25-16 first set win on the Cougars fifth error of the opening frame.
Springfield, which entered the match ranked No. 1 in Division III with a .392 hitting percentage, was outhit in the set, .316 to .269, but benefited from four service aces.
Kean led for the vast majority of the season set, holding by at least two cushion on 13 occasions. However, faced with a 21-18 hole, the Pride mounted a gritty rally, thanks to the play of its seniors pouring on an 7-1 push to win the stanza.
Facing a three-point deficit after a pair of aces, Springfield started to chip away. Greg Falcone and Pelletier combined for huge block at 21-20 after an incredible rally, highlighted by Becker delivering an set while sitting down. Springfield evened things at 22-all on an athletic swing by Coen, and then snagged just its second lead of the stanza on a monster block by Pelletier. Following a Kean timeout, Falcone sealed the comeback with Springfield’s only ace of the set.
Springfield’s offense started to find its rhythm in the second, hitting .302 with 14 kills, seven off the arm of Coen.
The Cougars scored the next four points to regain an 12-10 lead, only to have Springfield use a 5-0 burst to take a three-point lead of its own. The Pride was just to strong, closing out the match with a 25-17 victory.
Springfield's offense was dominant in the third, posting a .682 hitting percentage with 17 kills, with Falcone and O'Leary combining for seven.