Springfield, Mass. - February 24, 2011 - Mike Pelletier recorded a match-high 13 kills at a .400 clip to lead the Springfield College men's volleyball team to a three-game sweep over visiting NJIT on Thursday evening in Blake Arena. The Pride took by the match by the set scores of 25-17, 25-22, 25-20.
Springfield, which regained its spot as the top-ranked team in the country in this week's AVCA Division III National Coaches Poll, improves to 5-10 this season, while the Highlanders drop to 3-9.
In a match in which 11 different members of the Pride had at least one kill, Pelletier led the attack with 13 kills at a season-best .400 clip. Greg Falcone converted on all seven of his swings and tacked on three blocks, while Cal Palumbo posted a match-high four blocks. Setter Mike Becker handed out 26 assists and Ryan Lilley came off the bench to deliver seven assists, five digs, two aces, and two blocks. Nick Ferry led the defensive effort with 12 digs for the hosts.
For NJIT, Herman Kantushov posted a team-best eight kills, while Andrei Stoyanow, Kevin Van Oss, and Doug Battersby each totaled six kills. Brady Smith registered 11 digs, and Adam Gustafson notched 27 assists and six digs.
A back-and-forth opening set featured 12 ties and five lead changes. After NJIT took a 15-14 lead on a triple block by Rafal Kierznowski, Kantushov, and Battersby, Springfield opened up a 8-0 spurt to own a 22-15 lead. Falcone teamed up for three blocks in the run to lead Springfield's scoring efforts. Becker and Palumbo came up big with a block on set point, as Springfield took the opening set while holding the visitors to a -.042 hitting percentage.
The Highlanders were much more efficient in the second frame as they hit .429 and snagged a 21-18 advantage after a Kantushov kill. However, after Pelletier connected for a kill to side out, Lilley's tough serving brought Springfield back to take a 22-21 lead. Gustafson tallied a kill to side out, only to have Springfield post the final three points two kills by Pelletier and another by Falcone. All told, Pelletier tallied seven kills in the second set.
Tommy Crow's serving provided a spark to start the third set as Springfield roared out to a 7-0 advantage. With plenty of new faces in the game for head coach Charlie Sullivan, Springfield couldn't hold onto its big-lead as the Highlanders stormed back to even the set at 19 after a Van Oss kill. Springfield scored the next three points, including a big ace by Mike Freytag, which forced a NJIT timeout. The Pride completed the three-game sweep on a huge block by Lilley and James O'Leary.
The Pride will travel to Princeton on Saturday afternoon for an EIVA Tait match scheduled for 4:00 pm.
(Photo by Cindi Williamson of Fat Dog Fotos)