DIII No. 1 Springfield Prevails Over No. 12 Vassar


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Springfield, Mass. - The top-ranked Springfield College men's volleyball team was tested in its fourth match of the season but prevailed past No. 12 Vassar College, 3-2, on Saturday evening at Blake Arena.

The Pride outlasted the Brewers by the game scores of 28-30, 33-31, 30-27, 27-30, 15-11. The Pride move to 3-1 while the Brewers drop to 3-2.

Freshman Cal Palumbo (Rochester, N.Y.)was sensational for the Pride as he led the way with a team-best 19 kills, hitting .571 to go along with a pair of blocks. Palumbo came through when it counted, hammering out three kills in the fifth and final game for Springfield.

The first game, which featured 16 ties, was nip and tuck throughout. After a Tom Pawlowski ace put the visitors up one, 22-23, the Pride could get no closer than two as the Brewers held on for the 30-28, game-one win.

The Pride once again found the Brewers coming out on fire in game two and trailed early, 13-9, after a Phil Tully kill. Coming out of a timeout, the Pride rattled off a 7-3 run to knot the game at 16 after a Brewer hitting error. Vassar would fight back into the match and held of an SC game-point to send the game into extended points. The Pride took advantage of a kill from sophomore All-American AJ Nally (Rochester, N.Y.) and a Vassar attack error to take the second game, 33-31.

Springfield looked upstoppable to open up the third game as it raced out to a 7-3 lead after a kill from All-American Ryan Fredrickson (Surf City, N.J.). However, as was the case the entire night, Vassar battled back, tied at 27 after a Scott Leserman kill. The Pride turned to a familiar face as Eric Palumbo pounded out a key kill to put SC up one, 28-27. A Brewer attack error and a kill from setter Eric Shoemaker (Mount Wolf, Pa.) game the Pride a 2-1 game advantage.

The Pride fell behind early in the fourth game and was unable to dig itself out of an early seven-point deficit. The Pride, which hit just .042 in the fourth game, relied greatly on its bench as head coach Charlie Sullivan pulled all his starters. SC nearly pulled of a miraculous comeback, trailing by seven, 28-21. Javier Rosario (San Juan, Puerto Rico) put the team on his back from the service line and brought the Pride within two, 28-26. However, a late kill from Pawlowski game the Brewers a 30-27 win and forced a fifth game.

The Pride raced out to a quick 6-3 lead as went on to win its third match of the 2008 campaign. Vassar would once again fight back into the match, drawing within one, 10-9, after another Tully kill. The Pride looked to senior Dave Smietana (Buffalo, N.Y.) who delivered as he hammered home a pair of kills to extend the home squad's lead to 12-10, forcing another Vassar timeout. Out of the timeout, Sullivan subbed in his All-American middle blocker Andy Sipe (New Oxford, Pa.) who didnt' disappoint as he shut down Pawlowski with a convincing solo block to bring the Pride to game-point. A crafty kill from Fredrickson ended the match as the Pride took a 15-11 final game. The Pride hit. 444 in the fifth game to pick up the victory.

Cal Palumbo led the Pride with 19 kills off a .571 hitting percentage while Nally added his second-straight double double with a 17 kill, 16 dig performance. Fredrickson added 16 kills and eight digs while Brandon Waas (Rochester, N.Y.) anchored the defense with 18 digs. Sipe finished with seven kills and six blocks while Shoemaker dished out 61 assists.

Tully finished with a game-high 32 kills while his teammate Leserman added 20. Setter John Kessenich dished out 70 assists while Kyle Giuta made a game-high 21 digs.

Springfield outblocked the visitors, 10-5, and outhit them for the match, .304 to .228.

The Pride wrap up its three-game homestand when it takes on Endicott on Monday evening at 7:00 p.m.

Article courtesy of Springfield athletics.

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