SPRINGFIELD, Mass.. – In the midst of playing three games in three days the Stevenson men's volleyball team found themselves on the losing end of a 3-0 decision to topped-ranked Springfield College on Friday night in the opening round of the International Volleyball Hall of Fame Morgan Classic at the Blake Arena hosted by Springfield College
Stevenson (4-5), had their two-match winning streak stopped dropping the match by set scores of 25-18, 25-16, and 25-19. The loss was the first suffered by the Mustangs since January 19 when the fell at the hands of then third-ranked SUNY New Paltz.
Junior Landon Shorts led the way for Stevenson with eight kills, team-high four digs, and three aces hitting .148. Freshman Logan Smiley chipped five kills, a solo block and added a dig. While junior Jason Gardner contributed six kills and a block on the night. Rookie Aleks Melbardis dished out a team-high 13 assists.
Springfield (10-1), was paced by Sergio Figueroa Velez with a game-high 12 kills, nine digs, and three blocks with a .450 attack percentage. Sean Zuvich added 11 kills, seven digs, and two blocks to the cause. Billy De La Espriella, Ricardo Padilla Ayala, and Kyle Jasuta each posted four kills. Mike Neary was in a sharing mood handing out 34 assists.
The two sides opened the match by sharing the first four points, as a kill from senior Alex Klunk tied the score 2-2. Springfield then went on a 4-1 push going up 6-3 with the only Mustang point in that run coming from a Gardner kill. With Stevenson down 10-6, a service error by Jasuta put Shorts on the service line and aided by two aces and a kill from Smiley the Mustangs grabbed their first lead of the set at 11-10. However, the streak of visiting team points lit a fire under the host Pride as they seven of the next eight points to take a 17-12 edge. The teams exchanged points the rest of the frame, but Stevenson could not get the lead under four. A kill from Joseth Irizarry took the first 25-18.
Set number two saw the Pride jump out to a 4-1 lead. The Mustangs settled things down quickly and took the following two points off a Shorts kill and a home attack error pulling the margin to 4-3. Once again Springfield would not let the guests get in front taking three of the next four going in front 7-4. Stevenson crawled back to within one, 7-6 after a pair of Pride attack errors. Three straight for the home side opened the edge back up to four 10-6. The Mustangs snagged five of the ensuing ten points on kills from Gardner and Smiley, an ace from Klunk, and two Pride errors to cut the lead by one to 14-11. Springfield bumped the advantage to 17-11 with kills from Velez and Zuvich. Splitting the next four points did little to bring Stevenson back into the set as the lead stayed at six 19-13. The home side outscored the visitors 6-3 down the stretch to take the second 25-16.
Springfield started the third set the way they opened the second taking an early 4-1 edge. A kill from Gardner and an ace from freshman Garrett Weigel capped a 3-1 push to get the Mustangs to down by one at 5-4. The Pride answered the Stevenson run with one of their own using a 9-2 stretch to take a 14-6 lead. In this set of runs, the visitors took five of the next seven points getting kills from Gardner, Melbardis, and Weigel to trim the deficit to 16-11. The streaks continued with Springfield going on a 6-2 run making it 22-13. The Mustangs were determined to grab a set against the top-ranked team in the nation with kills from Gardner, Shorts, and Weigel bringing the score to 24-19. However, it would not be enough as a service error from Shorts ended the set and the match 25-19.
The Mustangs as a team hit .081 on 25 kills, while Springfield hit an impressive .530 and totaled 41 kills. At the service line, Stevenson held the edge with seven aces with the Pride picking up three. The home side had a decisive advantage in the blocking game racking up 15 to the guests three.
The Mustangs will wrap up their three day-three match road trip tomorrow Saturday, February, 10 when they play in the consolation match of the International Volleyball Hall of Fame Morgan Classic against Division I Harvard University at Springfield College. First serve between the Mustangs and the Crimson is set for 6pm.