HOBOKEN, N.J. -- Springfield defeated Rutgers-Newark in straight sets in the NCAA Division III Championship Quarterfinals on Friday evening in Canavan Arena on the campus of Stevens Institute of Technology. The Pride won by the scores of 25-14, 25-23, 25-12.Springfield, which is the No. 2 seed in this year's national tournament, improved to 24-6 and will play in the NCAA Championship Semifinals on Saturday against the winner of UC Santa Cruz and Nazareth. Rutgers-Newark, the No. 7 seed, had its season come to a close with a 22-10 record.
Ricardo Padilla Ayala totaled a match-high 14 kills to go along with six aces and three blocks, while Greg Woods produced 13 kills at a .474 clip. Keaton Pieper ran Springfield's offense with 32 assists as the Pride hit .415 on the night. Joseth Irizarry Feliciano notched a match-best five blocks and Angel Perez chipped in six kills and four digs.
After a Springfield service error brought Rutgers-Newark within 11-9 in the opening set, the Pride seized control with an 8-2 run, taking a 19-11 lead after Woods put a ball away. Padilla Ayala keyed the burst with two service aces, and the first-year gave Springfield the 25-14 win after he crushed his seventh kill of the match. The Pride hit .522 in the first set, racking up 16 kills and holding the Scarlet Raiders to a .059 hitting percentage.
The second frame was the closest of the match as it featured 11 ties, and the Pride trailed by as many as four after an attack error gave Rutgers-Newark an 11-7 cushion. Springfield would eventually take its first lead of the game on a monster stuff from Irizarry Feliciano and Perez at 16-15, but the Scarlet Raiders would answer back to regain a 21-19 lead.
The Pride turned to Woods and Padilla Ayala down the stretch and the duo didn't disappoint, as Woods registered three kills and Padilla Ayala delivered a critical ace which gave Springfield set point. Irizarry Feliciano and Pieper would then snuff out a Rutgers-Newark bid on the pin, giving Springfield a 25-23 win.
Woods led the Pride with six kills in the frame, while Irizarry Feliciano came through with three blocks.
Springfield took that momentum into the third set and never looked back as it hit at a .600 clip and benefited from four aces, including three from Padilla Ayala. The Pride raced out to a 10-3 advantage and never let the Scarlet Raiders within six. Irizarry Feliciano teammed with Pieper for a big block for match point, and then connected for another block with classmate Padilla Ayala for the game's final point.