Nashua, N.H. - February 1, 2014 - The Springfield College men’s volleyball team had its 30-match winning streak against Division III opponents snapped on Saturday in a four-set loss to Rivier University. The Raiders prevailed by the scores of 25-22, 19-25, 25-19, 25-13.
The Pride, which entered the weekend ranked No. 1 in the country in this week’s AVCA Division III poll, evened its record to 4-4, while the Raiders, the country’s 8th-ranked team, won their season-opener to improve to 1-0. Angel Perez (Naranjito, Puerto Rico) had an outstanding match for the Pride, totaling a 14 kills at a .591 clip. Luis Vega (Corozal, Puerto Rico) finished the afternoon with a match-high 15 kills and seven digs, and Ryan Malone (Chicopee, Mass.) added 10 kills. Keaton Pieper (Dallas, Texas) finished the match with 42 assists.
Rivier hit .395 in the match and was led by the tandem of Chris Markuson and Aaron Almario, who each registered 12 kills. Terence Matatall notched eight kills and match-best five blocks. In his first collegiate match, Tyler Blank dished out 37 helpers and tallied five digs, four blocks, and three aces.
A kill from Vega put the Pride up 11-7 early in the first, but the host Raiders answered with a 7-1 push, using a Markuson kill to force the Pride into a timeout trailing 15-12. The Pride showed plenty of resolve and eventually regained a 20-19 cushion as Perez ripped an ace down the line. Matatall sided out for Rivier to knot the match at 20, and after a Raider service error, the hosts poured on four-straight points to earn set point at 24-21. Markuson was huge in the spurt with a solo stuff and kill. Vega stemmed the times with a kill, only to be called for a blocking error on the next point to give Rivier at 25-22 win.
Springfield was much more dominant in the second set, hitting .478 as a team. Malone hammered a ball down the line to give the visitors a 12-8 cushion. Springfield didn’t let Rivier get any closer than three the remainder of the frame as it took evened the match at a set apiece. Vega, Malone, and Perez each registered four kills to pace a balanced offense.
Rivier regained the momentum in the third and raced out to an 8-4 lead. Springfield answered with the next two points, with a Malone ace bringing Springfield within a pair at 8-6. However, Rivier strung together another big run, this time an 8-4 push to take a stranglehold of the set, leading 16-10 following a Shane Spellman ace. Back-to-back Rivier hitting errors brought Springfield within 20-16, but the hosts grinded out five of the final eight points to take a 2-1 lead lead.
Spellman continued to serve tough to begin the fourth, keeping Springfield offbalance as the Raiders poured on a 7-2 run to begin the set. A kill from Greg Woods (Middletown, Conn.) made an 8-4 contest, but that’s as close as Springfield would get. Rivier would go on to lead by as many as 12 before finally getting a Markuson kill to complete the upset victory.
Springfield 3, Johnson & Wales 0:
The Springfield College men’s volleyball team rebounded from its first Division III loss of the season to sweep Johnson and Wales on Saturday afternoon at Rivier University. Springfield took the match 25-19, 25-17, 26-24.
Luis Vega (Corozal, Puerto Rico) posted nine kills at a .457 clip in two sets of action for the Pride, while Greg Woods (Middletown, Conn.) added six kills. Jimmy O’Leary (Reading, Pa.) registered five blocks and Luis Garcia Rubio (Bayamon, Puerto Rico) ran the offense with 28 assists.
Shawn Kennedy led Johnson and Wales with seven kills in the match, and J.J. Bessette was credited with 20 assists as the Wildcats hit .101 on the night.
Consecutive aces from O’Leary set the tone in the opening set as the Pride jumped out to an 11-7 advantage. The Wildcats responded with a 7-2 run, with a Kennedy ace putting JWU on tap 14-13. Springfield answered right back with 10 of the next 13 points as a Woods kill put the Pride on top 23-17. Sean Peterson (Norfolk, Va.) put the finishing touches on the 25-19 win with a thunderous swing out of the middle.
Springfield was seemingly in control throughout the second set and a big block from Ryan Malone (Chicopee, Mass.) and Peterson provided Springfield with a 17-9 cushion. Holding the JWU to a -.050 hitting percentage in the set thanks to six team blocks, the Pride took a two-set advantage following a Peterson solo stuff.
Back-to-back Springfield errors allowed the Wildcats to take an early 7-3 lead in the third. They held on to the lead until a Vega ace knotted things at 16, only to have an ensuing service error give JWU the lead right back. A kill from Kennedy made it a 24-22 game and Springfield called its final timeout of the frame. JWU served the ball into the net, and Vega tied the set at 24 with a critical ace. The Pride benefited from consecutive Wildcat miscues to rally for a 26-24 win.
The Pride will now prepare for another showdown with a nationally-ranked squad who will be playing in its home opener when Springfield travels to take on 4th-ranked New Paltz on Wednesday.