NEWTON, Mass. – The Lasell College men's volleyball team provided two-time defending national champion Springfield College a formidable challenge Tuesday evening, but the #2-ranked Pride pulled out a 3-1 victory over the Lasers at the Lasell Athletic Center.
The Lasers took the opening set, 25-21, but the Pride rebounded to sweep the next three, 25-10, 25-15, and 25-10. Ranked No. 2 in the most recent American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Division III National Poll for the fifth-straight week, Springfield is now 23-2 on the year and has won its last eight matches. The loss dropped Lasell to 12-14.
Junior Janci Soto (Lawrence, Mass.) smashed a team-high seven kills for Lasell, while sophomore Aaron Waitekus (Norwood, Mass.) and senior Andy Henriquez (Lawrence, Mass.) each posted six kills without an error. Waitkus had six kills on 17 attempts (.353) and Henriquez made six kills on nine attempts (.667) while adding 21 assists. Soto and Waitekus made three blocks apiece, and senior Jordan Aprea (Newington, Conn.) recorded a team-high 14 digs.
Brennen Brandow (Manorville, N.Y.) notched a match-best 16 kills to go along with 10 digs for Springfield, while fellow outside Eli Irizarry Pares (Baymon, Puerto Rico) produced 13 kills at a .632 hitting percentage. Eli Gabriel Irizarry Pares (Bayamon, Puerto Rico) was credited with 39 assists, eight digs, four kills, and two aces and Kyle Jasuta (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) delivered 10 kills at a .500 clip, a career-high nine digs, and three blocks. Johjan Mussa Robles (Caguas, Puerto Rico) tallied a team-best 12 digs as Springfield held a 61-38 advantage in digs for the match. For the night, Springfield hit .341 as a team.
In the opening set, Lasell jumped out to a 6-0 lead as Springfield committed five attack errors in the early going. A kill from Mike Neary (Ventura, Calif.) would later even the frame at 12-all, only to have the hosts take advantage of five more Springfield miscues as part of an 8-2 push to open up a 20-14 advantage. The Pride would get no closer than three points as it dropped the 25-21.
The visitors regrouped and raced out to an 8-3 cushion to begin the second set. Springfield would manage to put away 15 kills at a .448 percentage in the set, as it coasted to the 25-10 win. Springfield used another fast start to take control of the third, seizing a 10-4 lead before the hosts whistled for a timeout. Springfield would ease its way to a 25-15 win to take a 2-1 lead in the match.
The Pride's offense was sensational in the fourth set as it erupted for 21 kills on 26 swings from a remarkable .731 hitting percentage. Even at 19 late in the set, consecutive kills from Jasuta and Neary kick-started a 6-1 burst to close the match, as the Pride earned a 25-20 win.
The Lasers will be home for Senior Night this Thursday, April 4, hosting Regis College in a Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) match at the Athletic Center at 7 p.m. Springfield will head to New York for a tri-match at Vassar with Daemen on Saturday starting at 2 pm.
(Contributions from Springfield Athletic Communications)
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