Springfield Captures Fifth National Championship With 3-0 Win Over Vassar

4/12/2008

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Springfield, Mass. - For the fifth time in program history, the Springfield College men's volleyball team can call themselves national champions. In front of a raucous 1,300 fans, the Pride captured the 2008 Molten Division III Men's Invitational Volleyball Championship by sweeping Vassar in three games.

In dominating fashion, the Pride won by the scores 30-26, 30-24, 30-20.

"All season, everyone has been on our side, whether it be our families or all our great fans," said All-Tournament team selection AJ Nally (Rochester, N.Y.). "Tonight, everything came to fruition for our volleyball program and I couldn't be happier"

Nally led the way for the Pride as he recorded a double double, hammering out 12 kills at a .357 clip to go along with a match-high 10 digs. He also record four blocks for the Pride.

"We really turned the corner as a team in our last NYU match," said head coach Charlie Sullivan. "That is when we started to work as a group instead of individuals. This season, as it always is, is a process. That's why I think we have continued to stay successful, because we are process oriented. "

After a pair of outstanding showings directing the Pride attack in the Invitational, sophomore Eric Shoemaker (Mount Wolf, Pa.) was tabbed the Most Outstanding Player of the Invitational. Shoemaker directed his team to a .361 hitting percentage in the match as he dished out 42 assists and registered seven blocks in the match.

"After finishing third last year at the Molten's, and after realizing that we were going to host it this year, we as a group knew we had to work hard and stay focused to achieve one of our goals," said Shoemaker. "Tonight, everything clicked for us and it was a great team effort."

Springfield's other all-tournament selection proved why he was this season Newcomer of the Year this season as Cal Palumbo (Hilton, N.Y.) dominated at middle blocker in the match. The freshman registered a hitting percentage of .600 as he notched 11 kills to go along with six blocks.

The first game started like a ball of fire, high intensity, hard hitting by both teams. It was tight throughout, but only tied three times, the last at 19-19. Springfield went on a three point run to push ahead 22-19 and basically traded points with the Brewers until registering a 30-26 win. At a key stretch, Palumbo brought the crowd to its feet after he crushed a ball out of the middle to give SC a 25-22 advantage.

Leading 15-13, the Pride, playing off the energy of a capacity crowd, started to pull away in the second game. A major presence at the net all the night, Nally and Palumbo teamed up a double block that went straight down, sending SC's crowd into a frenzy once again. Springfield eventually went on to by as many as nine as it grabbed the second game, and was just one game after from the championship billing.

Continuing to click on all cylinders as it had all match, the Pride made no mistake as it jumped all over the Brewers in the third game. Springfield took control of the third game at 15-10 following a series of blocks and powerful kills by Nally who was all over the court. A sensational kill from gave SC a 21-13 lead, its largest of the game. Ryan Fredrickson (Cedar Run, N.J.) and Andy Sipe (New Oxford, Pa.) combined for the squad's 13th team block of the night at 29-20, and a Vassar hitting error completed the Pride's championship victory.

"It's the best I've seen Springfield play - ever," said Vassar head coach Jonathan Penn. "They (Springfield) can't play any better than they played today. They were unbelievable. Our guys stepped up - Steve (Micucci) and Scott (Leserman) had great matches, but Springfield was too good."

Fredrickson finished with a match-high 15 digs and was nearly unstoppable all night as he and Shoemaker really clicked from the get go. The Pride amassed 24 block assists in the match and held Vassar to a .124 hitting percentage as a team.

Vassar was led by Evan Frederickson who recorded 11 kills, while teammate Scott Leserman notched 10 kills.

Article courtesy of Springfield athletics.

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