- Score: #15 MIT 3, #1 Springfield 2 (25-18, 22-25, 23-25, 25-22, 15-11)
- Records: MIT (20-9); Springfield (25-2)
- Location: Cambridge, Mass. (Rockwell Cage)
- The Lead: In its final match of the regular season, the nationally-ranked No. 15 MIT men's volleyball team defeated No. 1 Springfield College, 25-18, 22-25, 23-25, 25-22, 15-11, on Saturday afternoon. The victory over the Pride was the first for the Engineers since 1991 and snapped the visitors' 25-match win streak. In addition, MIT recorded the program's 12th 20-win season in 13 years.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- MIT gradually established a 20-10 advantage in the first set. Springfield chipped away at the deficit, using a kill by Sean Zuvich to come within six (22-16). An exchange of points closed out the set, capped by a kill from sophomore Skyler Kaufman (Needham, Mass.).
- The Engineers claimed a 15-10 lead in the second stanza after a Kaufman ace. The Pride battled back, capitalizing on MIT miscues and kills from Luis Vega to record the 25-22 come-from-behind win.
- Springfield jumped out to a 7-3 lead in the third set and maintained a small cushion throughout, reaching set point (24-20) on a Vega kill. Two kills by junior Tavish Smith (Laguna Beach, Calif.) and a hitting error kept the Engineers alive; however, a serving error helped the Pride hold on for the win.
- The fourth set was a back-and-forth affair as there were 15 ties and eight lead changes. Trailing 15-14, back-to-back kills by sophomore Steven Timberman (Merrick, N.Y.) and an ace from freshman Thomas Nelson (San Ramon, Calif.) gave MIT a 17-15 edge. Following a Springfield timeout, both teams traded points, moving the score to 23-22 courtesy of a Zuvich kill. The Engineers replied with kills from Timberman and Kaufman to force the decisive fifth set.
- A pair of hitting errors helped the hosts take an 8-4 lead at the changeover in the final frame. Once action resumed, the exchange of points returned until Smith's kill clinched the win.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS:
- Smith finished with 13 kills while Kaufman posted 12 kills, .500 hitting performance, four blocks, and two aces. Senior Martin Krasuski (Aurora, Ill.) registered nine kills and seven digs as sophomore Jacob Gasparich (New Lenox, Ill.) bolstered MIT's balanced attack with eight kills. Senior Jordan Lucier (Torrance, Calif.) totaled 11 digs, followed by 10 from Nelson. Senior Sean Kropp (Fairless Hills, Pa.) contributed three blocks while sophomore Yize Dong (Moraga, Calif.) dished out 44 assists.
- Vega finished with a match-high 22 kills to go along with nine digs as Ricardo Padilla Ayala produced 14 kills, a .407 hitting effort, eight digs, three blocks, and two aces. Zuvich registered 11 kills while Eli Irizarry Pares led all players with 14 digs. Luis Garcia Rubio rounded out the Pride with 59 assists and three blocks.
- MIT kicks off postseason play on Thursday, April 13 as the No. 5 seed for the United Volleyball Conference Tournament hosted by nationally-ranked No. 2 Vassar College. The Engineers will take on No. 4 seed and nationally-ranked No. 5 SUNY New Paltz at 5:00 p.m. in the first quarterfinal match of the day. Springfield, meanwhile, wraps up the regular season on Wednesday, April 12 with a trip to the New Jersey Institute of Technology.