City of La Quinta:
NCAA Division III Men’s Volleyball Championship LIVE : The Springfield men’s volleyball team (23-6) was selected to the 2015 NCAA Division III National Championship Tournament as the overall No. 2 seed and will take on Rutgers-Newark in the national quarterfinals on Friday, April 24. The National Championship Tournament will be held at Stevens Institute of Technology from April 24-26
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Springfield has faced four of the 10 NCAA Tournament teams this season, going 4-1. The Pride defeated fourth-seeded New Paltz twice this season, winning its first contest in five sets on Feb. 25 after rallying from a two set deficit before defeating the Hawks in five sets once again on April 4. Springfield has also swept 8th-seeded Lasell on March 10 and 9th-seeded Baruch on March 26, while fifth-seeded Kean swept the Pride Feb. 7.
The Pride has won nine Division III titles, hoisting the Molten Invitational National Championship trophy six times 1997, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2008, 2010, before capturing the first three NCAA Division III Championships. The Pride swept Carthage in Blake Arena for the inaugural title in 2012 before sweeping host Nazareth in 2013 and host Juniata in 2014 for its third-straight crown.
Defending National Champs:
Springfield College won last year’s NCAA Division III Men’s Volleyball Championship by defeating host Juniata College, 3-0. The Pride won by set scores of 25-20, 25-21, 25-21. Springfield was led by sophomore Luis Vega, who was named the NCAA Most Outstanding Player for the second straight season. Vega led all attackers, producing 17 kills and hitting at a .367 clip. Jimmy O’Leary and Keaton Pieper also made a notable impact, with O’Leary tallying 13 kills at a .750 hitting percentage and Pieper delivering 39 assists. In addition, Nick Ferry led the defense with a match-high seven digs.
Division III Supremacy
Since the NCAA began its sponsorship of the Division III Men’s Volleyball National Championship in 2012, Charlie Sullivan and company has produced a 107-7 record against Division III opponents.
Since 2008, the Pride has played in six of seven national championship games, including being victorious in five of them. Dating back to the implementation of the NCAA Division III Men’s Volleyball National Championship in 2012, the Pride have won three titles in a row, with a chance of winning their forth in four years in 2015. From 2003 to 2009, Juniata College had a similar run, making six out of seven national championship matches.
West Coast Openers
2015 marked the sixth-straight season that Springfield opened up its season on the West Coast. The Pride started the year with losses to Hope International and Concordia, before redeeming themselves with a sweep of Hope International in their final West Coast match.
The Springfield College men’s volleyball team has established strong ties to the state of California, which are reflected in its roster. The Pride has a total of six Golden Staters, including four underclassmen. The six student-athletes is the fifth-most among Division III men’s volleyball teams.
UC- Santa Cruz – 18
NYU – 13
Regis – 8
Southern Vermont – 7
Springfield – 6
This season, the Springfield College men’s volleyball team has four natives of Puerto Rico on the team. In addition to returners Angel Perez and Luis Garcia Rubio, the Pride added freshmen Joseth Irizarry Feliciano and Ricardo Padilla Ayala to the mix. The Pride’s four Puerto Ricans is the most among any team in that plays men’s volleyball in the NCAA.
Springfield (Division III) – 4
IPFW (Division I) – 3
Erksine (Division II) – 3
Sullivan Reaches Silver
In August of 2014, Head Coach Charlie Sullivan led the U.S Men’s Pan-American team to a Silver Medal at the Men’s Pan-American Cup. Sullivan led his squad of 12 relatively young men, including recent college graduates and current college athletes, to three straight-set victories over Columbia, Mexico, and Puerto Rico. The team is also represented by Springfield College alum AJ Nally, who appeared at outside during the games. The team finally suffered a loss to Cuba in the finals, ending with a ranking of second out of the nine-team field. Despite every other country bringing their national teams, the U.S still finished well enough to qualify for the World League this summer.
Regulars at the NCAA’s
Since the inception of the NCAA Division III Men’s Volleyball Championship in 2012, only three schools have appeared in each of the first four championships. Springfield, which was the top seed in 2012, 2013, and 2014, has been joined by Baruch and Kean as the only four-time participants.
Summer Trip For the Ages
For two weeks in July of 2013, 17 members of the Springfield College community represented Team USA as the men’s volleyball program competed at the 2013 World University Games in Kazan, Russia. Fresh of its second-straight NCAA Division III National Championship, the Pride changed their Maroon and White uniforms for the Red, White, and Blue as they competed against Australia, Estonia, Belarus, Russia, Korea, Hong Kong, China, Chile, and Macau on the international stage.
Due to their outstanding performances in the 2015 season, three members of the Pride were selected as AVCA Division III First-Team All Americans as Keaton Pieper, Angel Perez, and Ricardo Padilla-Ayala all garnered the accolade.
As a program, Springfield College has had 20 student-athletes garner AVCA All-America recognition a total of 38 times, including 26 first-team selections. No other Division III program in the country has received more AVCA All-American selections than the Pride’s 38 honorees. Springfield has had at least three AVCA First-Team All-America selections in 2004, 2010, 2011, and 2014.
Pieper has had a special senior season for the Pride and has led an offense that currently ranks number one in the country in hitting percentage at .329. The Business Mangament major is 8th in the country with 10.29 assists per game and has chipped in 82 digs, 34 blocks, and 12 aces this season.
After earning first-team recognition and national newcomer of the year honors in 2012, Perez had a terrific year on the pin for the Pride. The Pyschology major currently ranks second on the squad with 227 kills, hitting at a .303 clip, and is third in both digs (112) and blocks (57).
Padilla Ayala was one of two first-years to earn All-America honors this season and was the only freshman on the first team. The Business Management major made an impact all over the court this season, producing 204 kills while hitting .339, and leads the team with 42 aces to go along with 96 digs and 27 blocks.
Newcomer of the Year
In reward for a strong performance throughout his freshman season, Ricardo Padilla-Ayala was named the 2015 AVCA Newcomer of the Year, an award that honors the top first-year in Division III volleyball. Padilla-Ayala is now the fifth member of the Pride to have earned this honor. Other honorees include:
Angel Perez – 2012
Cal Palumbo – 2008
AJ Nally – 2007
Nick Beer – 2004
This season, the Pride has given a new set of players the chance to step into the spotlight.
Senior Jason Mascoe is a four-year member of the squad and has played in 87 sets this season, the second highest on the team. In his previous three seasons, Mascoe has just appeared in 31 matches for a total of 60 sets. The Sports Biology major has made the most of his time this year, producing 112 kills at a .335 hitting percentage, while also tallying 74 blocks.
Junior Greg Woods has also been making a name for himself this season as he has transition to the right side. Woods has currently played in 64 sets, which is more than his first two seasons combined. He currently ranks first on the team with 230 kills, averaging an impressive 3.59 kills per set at a .333 clip. Since breaking into the starting lineup on February 28, Woods has hit for double digit kills in nine matches, inlcuding breaking the 20-kill mark four times.
Returner Ryan Malone saw a fair amount of time on the right and left side last season, but is now playing libero for the first time this season. Despite his sudden change, Malone has shown his versatility by totalling 132 digs on the year and has had just 12 service reception errors in 372 attempts.
Springfield has also been impacted by the addition of first-years. As Newcomer of the Year, Padilla-Ayala has made an impact on the left side producing 204 kills while hitting .339, and leads the team with 42 aces to go along with 96 digs and 27 blocks.. In the middle, Irizarry-Feliciano has also made his mark as a starter, producing 76 kills at a remarkable .623 clip as he has tallied just five errors all season and is leading the team with 82 blocks.
After playing volleyball for all four years of high school, Ryan Malone began his collegiate volleyball career on January 13, 2014 and played in his first match just four days later against Hope International. A four-year star for the men’s soccer team, Malone is regarded as one of the finest players in Division III program history, earning NEWMAC Men’s Soccer Player of the Year and ECAC Co-Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2014.
Now in his second season of volleyball, Malone shows his versatility by playing on the left side, right side, and at libero. He currently ranks fourth on the team with 140 kills and second with 132 digs, while also chipping in 23 blocks and 18 aces for the Pride.
Malone left the squad for a week in mid-February when he was named to the preseason roster for the Rochester Rhinos, the most successful soccer club in the United States and Canada outside of Major League Soccer. On April 30, Malone will continue his quest to play play professional soccer when he travels to Germany, where he will have try-outs to play in the third division.
Against The 2015 Field
Baruch — All Time Record: 11-0
Last Time Out: The Pride defeated then sixth-ranked Baruch in straight sets on March 25, 2015 by scores of 25-19, 25-19, 25-21. Greg Woods posted 11 kills in the win, while Angel Perez added 10 kills and six digs. Springfield hit .365 on the night, thanks in large part to Keaton Pieper, who directed the offense with 32 assists. Jason Mascoe also produced four blocks in the win.
Kean — All Time Record: 4-1
Last Time Out: On February 7, 2015, senior Angel Perez posted a team-high 11 kills in a three-set loss to Kean University. The Pride was defeated by the scores of 25-18, 25-13, 30-28. Sean Zuvich added nine kills while Keaton Pieper directed the offense with 23 assists. This was only Springfield’s sixth loss to a Division III team in the past four seasons, and one of two this year.
Nazareth — All Time Record: 4-2
Last Time Out: The Pride swept Nazareth on April 28, 2013 to win their second NCAA Division III Men’s Volleyball National Championship. Springfield won by set scores of 25-18, 25-13, 25-22. Luis Vega was named the championship’s Most Outstanding Player after producing 13 kills in the victory, while his counterpart Mike Pelletier also put away 13 balls. Greg Falcone and Nick Ferry were named to the All-Tournament Team after Falcone contributed seven kills and three blocks, and Ferry had a match-high seven digs.
New Paltz — All Time Record: 42-2
Last Time Out: Springfield battled out a five-set victory over New Paltz on Saturday, April 4, in Blake Arena, defeating the Hawks 3-2 for the second time this season. The Pride were led by Greg Woods, who produced a dominant 23 kills to win by scores of 21-25, 26-24, 25-23, 19-25, 15-10. Keaton Pieper was credited with a match-high 50 assists as Angel Perez added 13 kills, while Ricardo Padilla-Ayala followed closely with 12.
Rutgers-Newark — All Time Record: 8-7
Last Time Out: Springfield bested Rutgers-Newark 3-0 on January 26, 2013 in the final game of of The Golden Dome Invitational (Newark, N.J.) by set scores of 25-20, 25-17, 25-23. Evan Acanfora had a team-high eight kills at a .778 hitting percentage, while Mike Pelletier and Alistair Matthews both added seven kills. Mike Becker and Eric Johnson ran the offense, combining for 42 assists, while Nick Ferry led the defense with seven digs.
Stevens — All Time Record: 4-0
Last Time Out: An impressive 21 kills from sophomore outside hitter Luis Vega aided the Pride to a 3-0 victory over Stevens Tech on April 4, 2014. The Pride won by set scores of 25-16, 26-24 and 25-22. Vega registered 21 kills on 31 attempts, hitting at a .581 clip, and ss a team, the Pride hit at a .434 clip, while the Ducks hit .247. Sean Zuvich tallied 14 kills of his own, while junior setter Keaton Pieper notched 44 assists in the victory.
UC Santa Cruz — All Time Record: 3-1
Last Time Out: Ryan Malone posted 17 kills to defeat UC Santa Cruz 25-22, 25-15, 23-25, 25-21 in the Volleyball Hall of Fame Morgan Classic on February 21, 2014. Malone filled the stat sheet, hitting at .444 percent while also adding four aces and three blocks. Luis Garcia Rubio directed the offense, dishing out 47 assists, while Angel Perez produced 12 kills. Nick Ferry and Jimmy O’Leary also came up big for the Pride, with Ferry contributing 11 digs and O’Leary adding seven blocks.