Springfield advances to semifinals with three-set victory against Kean
ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Led by a match-high 15 kills from senior right side John Coen, Springfield advanced past Kean in three sets in the NCAA Championship Quarterfinals in Kindara Gymnasium on the campus of Nazareth College.
The Pride won by the set scores of 25-16, 25-22, 25-17 and will play the winner of Baruch and Stevens in the national semifinals on Saturday.
Springfield improved to 30-3 on the season and increased its win streak to 24 consecutive games.
Kean, which saw its season come to a close with a 26-7 record, advanced to play Springfield after sweeping Endicott last Saturday in the NCAA play-in contest.
Coen had a solid performance, hitting .500 and getting five digs, while Luis Vega added nine kills and two aces. Mike Pelletier chipped in eight kills, four digs, three blocks and two aces, as Mike Becker and Keaton Pieper shared the setting duties, totaling 39 assists to lead Springfield to a .413 hitting percentage. Defensively, Nick Ferry produced a match-high 11 digs.
In the opening set, the Pride was able to gain its first cushion of the afternoon at 7-4, following a Coen kill off the block and an ace by Pelletier.
Springfield’s lead increased to 10-5 after a Jimmy O’Leary ace and the Pride continued to put the pressure on the Cougars, forcing a timeout as Pelletier crushed an overpass kill to make the lead 14-8. The lead ballooned to 20-11 on another Pelletier ace, before Vega’s serve found the back corner for an ace, eventually setting up a 25-16 first set win on the Cougars fifth error of the opening frame.
Springfield, which entered the match with a .392 hitting percentage, was out hit in the set, .316 to .269, but benefited from four service aces.
Kean led for the vast majority of the set, leading by at least two on 13 occasions. However, faced with a 21-18 hole, the Pride mounted a rally thanks to the play of its seniors pouring on an 7-1 push to win the set.
Facing a three-point deficit after a pair of aces, Springfield started to chip away. Greg Falcone and Pelletier combined for a block at 21-20. Springfield evened things at 22 on a swing by Coen and then snagged just its second lead of the set on a block by Pelletier. Following a Kean timeout, Falcone sealed the comeback with Springfield’s only ace of the set.
Springfield’s offense started to find its rhythm in the second, hitting .302 with 14 kills, seven coming from Coen.
The Cougars once again used a fast start to jump out to a 4-1 lead in the third, but Springfield responded with a 5-0 burst, using a solo stuff from Pelletier and a kill from Vega to gain a 6-4 lead. Valhalla added another ace to tie it up at seven, but O’Leary converted out of the middle again at 10-8, forcing Kean into a timeout.
The Cougars scored the next four points to regain a 12-10 lead, only to have Springfield use a 5-0 burst to take a three-point lead of its own. The Pride closed out the match with a 25-17 victory.
Springfield's offense was dominant in the third, posting a .682 hitting percentage with 17 kills, with Falcone and O'Leary combining for seven.