Huntington, Pa. - March 27, 2010 - The Springfield College men's volleyball team dropped a thrilling five-set match to rival Juniata College on Saturday evening in a EIVA Tait Conference contest. The Eagles rallied for the win by the set scores of 22-30, 30-23, 24-30, 30-24, 19-17.
Springfield drops to 13-8, 3-5 in league action, while the Eagles improve to 6-11, 2-5.
The Pride is now in the drivers seat to earn the EIVA Conference bid to the upcoming Molten Division III National Championship which will be held April 16-17 by Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin. If Springfield defeats NYU on April 3, they earn a bid to the national championship by virtue of tiebreakers. Even though Springfield and Juniata split their season meetings, if SC can defeat NYU on April 3, Springfield will advance to the national championship by virtue of games won against Juniata.
AJ Nally had team-bests in both kills and digs as he totaled 21 kills and 16 digs in the loss. Cal Palumbo chipped in with 15 kills at a .400 clip, while Alistair Matthews notched a double double with 13 kills and 11 digs. Mike Pelletier added a double double with 11 digs and 10 kills, and Greg Falcone posted 10 blocks and three aces. Alex Harrison also registered 13 digs for the Pride.
The Pride controlled game one with a .517 attack percentage to the Eagles' .273 hitting percentage. Juniata tried to work its way back into the set and narrowed the gap set by Springfield with an Evan Halteman kill to have the scoreboard read 15-13. The Pride answered back with a kill and kept a solid lead throughout the rest of the set. Springfield went on a four-point run to end set one; three of the four points came from Juniata errors.
In set two the Eagles jumped to a 2-0 lead. The Pride tied the game up at 3-3 with a kill from Nally, but an attack error by Falcone put Juniata ahead. The Eagles kept the lead through the duration of set two. Zach Wanner served up two aces to force Springfield to call a timeout at 14-10. Out of the gates from the timeout, Halteman continued the Eagles' momentum with a kill. Juniata captured the last three points of set two, all of which were Springfield errors. The Eagles outhit the Pride .406 to .108 in the set.
The Eagles start off ahead in set three, but the Pride fought back to tie the score at 8-8 with the help of a Juniata ball handling error. Set three was back in forth between Juniata and Springfield, with each team siding out to keep flip-flopping the lead. Eric Shoemaker split the gap with an ace to give the Pride a 20-18 advantage, but Juniata's Wanner answered back with a kill. A Springfield block pushed them ahead to 21-19 and also gave the team momentum forcing a Juniata timeout. The Pride proceeded to go on a five-point run late in set three which pushed them closer to set point. At point 29-24, John Almquist, Mike Kraft, and Halteman combined for a block to stop Springfield from taking set three. An Alistair Matthews kill gave the set to the Pride 30-24.
Juniata started set four at a 1-0 deficit, but a service error by Shoemaker put the Eagles on the scoreboard. Juniata and Springfield were deadlocked at points 2-2, 4-4, 6-6, and 7-7 until a Halteman kill set the Eagles apart. After the kill, a three point run gave Juniata the momentum it needed and the Eagles led the set the entire way. A kill from Chris Vrooman finished off Springfield, 30-24.
The fifth and final set was neck-and-neck, where the match could have fallen in either team's favor. The teams' scores were within one point of the other until 7-5, where Springfield took the led on a Juniata attack error. The Eagles pushed their way back to tie the score at 8-8 and again at 10-10. Juniata took the lead at 11-10 with a Springfield hitting error. The Pride came back and tied the score up at 13-13. The lead wavered between Springfield and Juniata, with each team having set point twice until Juniata won the match on an SC attack error.
Halteman led the team in hitting percentage, attacking .500 for the match with 13 kills and two errors on 22 attempts. Wanner had match high kills with 23. Ben Wolff (Meadville, Pa./Meadville) always had 13 kills with a hitting percentage of .393 for the night.
Almquist recorded 56 assists, a career and match high. He also logged 16 digs. Libero Anthony Damiano tallied 17 digs in the five set match.
The Pride will look to get back on the winning track on Sunday afternoon when it travels to take on St. Francis (Pa.) in another conference clash.