No. 1 Springfield comes back in final sets to defeat fourth-ranked Stevens
HOBOKEN, N.J. -- After dropping the first two sets, Springfield regrouped and rallied for a five-set win at Stevens on Wednesday in a clash of top-five teams. The top-ranked Pride prevailed against the fourth-ranked Ducks 3-2 (23-25, 17-25, 30-28, 25-16, 15-7).
The win marked 18 victories in a row for Springfield (24-3).
Two Springfield players posted career-bests in kills, as John Coen hammered out 19 kills and Luis Vega recorded 16. Mike Pelletier had 11 kills and 11 digs, while Greg Falcone added nine kills and four blocks. Jimmy O'Leary had a team-best six blocks and Mike Becker was credited with 43 helpers. Nick Ferry also posted 11 digs in the win.
Three Ducks recorded double-digit kills in the loss. David Evans and Ryan Seifert each earned 16 kills, while Thomas Hannum compiled 14 kills. Seifert also chipped in six blocks and two service aces. Jake Modestow posted seven total blocks in the match and also added eight kills in 11 swings. Kevin Aeckerle paced all players with 52 assists to go along with six digs, while Chris Vaughan registered a match-high 17 digs.
In the opening set, Coen was the Pride's main source of offense, producing seven kills. After he got a kill to put the Pride on top 6-5, Stevens answered with the next two points to take the lead for good. The Pride trailed by as many as three throughout the frame before Falcone muscled through the block from a kill to make it 24-23. However, the Ducks took the opening frame on another Hannum kill 25-23.
Springfield struggled to start the second, as an early attack error gave Stevens a 5-2 cushion. The Pride climbed within 13-11 on a triple block by Becker, O'Leary and Pelletier, only to have Stevens pour on a 6-0 run, capped off by consecutive aces by Seifert to surge ahead 19-11. The Ducks continued to crush, using a Modestow kill to win the second set 25-17.
In the third, an early kill by Pelletier provided a 4-2 advantage. A back-and-forth game that featured 11 ties in the early going, Springfield had its back against the wall, trailing 23-16 on a Seifert kill. The Pride stormed back with six consecutive points, as back-to-back Stevens errors made it a 24-23 contest. A Springfield attack error gave the Stevens match point, but a kill from Coen and a block from Vega and O'Leary evened the score at 24. Despite the Ducks fighting off two set points, Springfield benefited from consecutive Stevens attack errors to end the third 30-28.
The Pride carried its momentum into the fourth, hitting .455. Holding a 9-7 lead, Springfield used a 5-1 push, highlighted by two kills and a block by Pelletier to open up a 14-8 lead. The Pride never looked back expanding its lead to nine before taking the set 25-16.
Springfield surged out to a 7-2 lead to start the fifth set behind a pair of O'Leary blocks and two kills from Falcone. With the Pride holding an 8-4 advantage, a fire in the complex triggered the fire alarms, causing nearly an hour delay. After the teams returned to the gym and warmed back up, Vega was unstoppable, hammering three kills as Springfield's lead ballooned to 13-6. A block from Coen and Falcone gave Springfield match point, and after Stevens sided out, Coen registered his 18th kill to complete the win. In the fifth, the Pride hit a remarkable .727, with eight kills on 11 errorless attempts.