CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Top-ranked Springfield escaped No. 13 MIT with a five-set victory on Wednesday. The Pride won by the set scores of 25-21, 21-25, 25-15, 20-25, 15-12.
The win was highlighted by senior Greg Falcone’s nine block assists, giving him a program record 444 for his career. The previous record of 438 was held by former standout Andy Sipe, who played from 2006-2009.
Springfield opened the match by building an 8-4 advantage and maintained a comfortable cushion throughout the set as its lead grew to 16-11. MIT responded with a 7-2 spurt as a strike by junior Ken Siebert brought it within one. The Pride replied by scoring six of the next eight points with a service error giving it set point at 24-19. The Engineers stayed alive by recording the next two points, the last on a blast by senior Matt Hohenberger off a block. However, Springfield’s Mike Pelletier thwarted the late rally with a kill of his own.
In the second set, the Pride established an 8-4 margin, but MIT battled back as a hitting error evened the score at 18. Springfield gained some breathing room courtesy of a pair of errors, however, back-to-back Hohenberger kills resulted in six unanswered points and a 24-20 lead. A block by senior Mike Becker and junior Jimmy O’Leary kept the Pride in the hunt; but a strike from sophomore Andrew Busse clinched the win for the hosts.
In the third set, Springfield turned a 5-all deadlock into a 13-6 lead and never looked back as it cruised to a 25-15 victory. The Pride capitalized on solid hitting and blocking from Pelletier, O’Leary and Falcone to take a 2-1 lead in the match.
The fourth frame was closely played as a kill by Busse evened the score at 12. A solo block from Falcone led to a 4-1 spurt which was capped by a quick hit from Becker. An exchange of points ensued until MIT rattled off seven consecutive to go ahead 23-19. A strike by Springfield senior Alistair Matthews ended the run; however, the Engineers used a Hohenberger kill and a Pride hitting error to force a decisive fifth set.
After trading serves to start the final frame, Springfield put together a 6-2 run with a Matthews kill giving it an 8-5 lead at the changeover. MIT battled back, using a kill from sophomore Alex Klein in addition to a kill and ace by senior Patrick Vatterott to tie the set at eight. The Pride countered by scoring four of the next five points as a block by O’Leary and sophomore Ryan Quesenberry put it in front 12-10. The exchange of points resumed as a Pelletier strike off the MIT block resulted in match point. A kill from Hohenberger extended the set, but a back-row hit from Pelletier secured the victory for Springfield.
Hohenberger finished with a team-high 23 kills as Busse generated 11 kills and a .647 hitting percentage. Siebert posted 11 kills while Vatterott registered seven digs and six kills. Junior Paul Syta tallied 48 assists, 20 digs, four kills and two aces as freshman Brendan Chang collected 17 digs.