Top-ranked Springfield takes down third-ranked Juniata in sweep
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- No. 1 Springfield swept No. 3 Juniata on Friday to advance to its consecutive Volleyball Hall of Fame Morgan Classic Championship. The Pride cruised to a 25-15, 25-20, 25-21 victory.
The match featured two of the most decorated Division III men's volleyball programs in the country, as the two squads have combined to win 11 of the last 12 national championships.
Springfield's Alistair Matthews registered a match-high 14 kills, while Jimmy O’Leary dominated the middle, hammering nine kills on 11 errorless attempts to go along with four blocks and two aces. Mike Pelletier chipped in eight kills and two aces, while Mike Becker finished with 31 assists as the Pride hit .390 for the match. Nick Ferry joined Matthews with a match-best eight digs.
Juniata fell prey to 10 Springfield aces. Paul Kuhn totaled a team-best 11 kills and Rob Strauss totaled 21 helpers and five digs. Juniata was held to a .173 hitting percentage for the match.
After O’Leary put away an overpass, Springfield owned an early 12-7 advantage as the Eagles called their first timeout of the set.
Springfield continued to control the tempo of the match and following a long rally, Matthews hammered the ball down the line to give Springfield a 19-3 lead. A Juniata service error, its fourth of the set, gave Springfield a 25-15 win.
Matthews was dominant for the Pride in the second set, producing seven of Springfield’s 13 kills. The set proved to be the closest of the match, as it featured nine ties and four lead changes. Kuhn recorded a kill for the visitors to give them a 16-15 cushion, only to have Springfield answer with a 3-0 burst to take a18-16 lead. Kuhn answered with another kill out of a timeout, but the hosts seized control for good with a 4-0 spurt and went on to take the second set 25-20.
In the third set, consecutive aces from Greg Falcone allowed Springfield to race out to a 10-4 lead. The Pride’s lead grew to as many as eight at 17-9 after a Falcone kill, but the Eagles battled back to get within three at 21-18. Falcone closed the match with his fourth kill of the set en route to a 25-21 win.