DIII No. 5 Springfield Defeats Sacred Heart in Four Games


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Springfield, Mass. - All-American AJ Nally (Rochester, N.Y.) registered a game-high 17 kills on a .464 hitting clip to pace the Springfield College men's volleyball team to a 3-1 victory over Sacred Heart in EIVA Hay action.

The win improves the fifth-ranked Pride to 13-5, 6-1 in conference play while the Pioneers fall to 1-10, 0-6. Springfield won the match by the scores 30-18, 30-15, 28-30, 30-23.

The Pride used eight service aces in the first game to grab a 1-0 lead in the match. Nally finished the first game out with two of his seven aces in the game as SC took a 30-18 decision. The Pride hit .324 in the opening game and led by as many as nine.

After a Nally kill gave the Pride a 10-6 lead, the home squad rattled off a 6-1 run capped off by a Eric Palumbo (Chili, N.Y.) kill to take control of the game. Springfield led by as many as 12 in the second game, which was finished off by a kill from All-American Andy Sipe (New Oxford, Pa.) out of the middle. Senior Chris Shekell (Rochester, N.Y.) directed the Pride's offense in the second game to a .500 hitting percentage as SC knocked down 16 kills on 24 attempts.

In the third game, Head Coach Charlie Sullivan inserted a new lineup into the game. The game was back and forth from the start until the Pioneers opened up a 27-22 lead after a BJ Smith kill. Springfield climbed right back into the game, cutting the lead to one at 29-28 after a Palumbo kill. However, Chris Yantz's kill gave the Pioneers the third game by a count of 30-28.

The Pride fell behind early in the fourth game, 9-5, after a ball handling error, which forced Sullivan to call a timeout. Out of the timeout, Springfield responded with a 9-2 run highlighted by a trio of Nally kills to regain the lead, 12-11. The Pioneers were resilient, knotting the game at 22, after a Pride attack error. However, after Sacred Heart recorded a service error of their own on the next play, Springfield went on a 6-1 run to pick up the win. Sipe was too much down the stretch as he contributed with a kill and teamed with Mark Ribeiro (New York, N.Y.) for a pair of block assists for the win.

Nally led the way with 17 kills and 12 digs, both game-highs, to go along with seven service aces. Palumbo added 13 kills and five aces while Sipe added nine kills, hitting .667, as well as four blocks and five digs. Ribeiro added nine kills as did Cal Palumbo (Rochester, N.Y.), who hit .571 in the win. Shekell dished out 28 assists and added seven digs in two games of work while Eric Shoemaker (Mount Wolf, Pa.) added 27 assists and seven digs of his own. The Pride picked up 16 service aces in the game.

The Pioneers were led by Scott Grandpre and Jon Mercado's six kills apiece. Peter Donahue added three kills and six blocks in the loss.

Springfield returns to action on Saturday evening when it hosts conference-foe Harvard at 7:00 pm.

Article courtesy of Springfield athletics.

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