Men’s volleyball season ends after NCAA quarterfinal defeat
Published: Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Updated: Monday, April 30, 2012 18:04
Last Friday, April 27, the Baruch Bearcats squared off against Springfield Pride in the quarterfinal game in the inaugural NCAA Division III tournament. It ended in defeat for the Bearcats. Springfield swept Baruch in three straight sets with the scores 25-12, 25-16 and 25-17. The game was played in Springfield, Massachusetts at Springfield College’s home court. It turned out to be a tough game for the Bearcats who not only had to deal with the number one seed in the country but also an energetic home crowd.
Baruch head coach Allison Stack was not particularly pleased or disappointed by the team’s performance. “I thought we played all right,” she said at the press conference after the game. She preferred to look ahead to next year when the team, mostly consisting of underclassmen will be more experienced. “Fortunately we only have two seniors and all underclassmen are coming back so we are looking forward to next year.”
Baruch had a slow start and Springfield jumped to a 5-0 lead. When it seemed like the Bearcats had fought their way back into the set by reducing the deficit to 6-3. Springfield Pride went on a five kill-run which prompted a Baruch time out. But whatever tactical changes the Bearcats made during the short break, it didn’t work. Springfield won the set comfortably 25-12. Baruch lost many points due to service errors and their biggest problem during the first set was their inability to get past Springfield’s blocks.
Baruch took their first lead of the game when senior Vincent Cruz scored a point of a block on the first play of the second set. The Bearcats played much better in the second, forcing Springfield to use one of their time outs after Cruz reduced Pride’s lead to 10-9. After the time out, Springfield showed why they won a total of 30 games this season and grabbed the number one seed. They left the Bearcats behind and ran the score up to 20-14 in Pride’s favor before Baruch used their second time out of the night.
Following the time out Pride pulled the first dump of the night. It took the Bearcats completely by surprise and extended Pride’s lead to seven. Springfield had a set point opportunity with the scoreboard showing 24-16 in favor of Springfield. Junior Gabe Rivera tried to block a smash but the ball bounced off him and out of bounds giving Springfield the second set by the score of 25-16.
Three weeks ago Baruch came back from two sets down to win the CUNY Final against Hunter. But on Friday they simply couldn’t repeat the feat. In the third set Baruch took a 3-2 lead, their second of the night. But Springfield came back and kept the Bearcats at a comfortable distance throughout the set. Their lead swayed between four and five points for most of the time until Springfield scored a series of points down the home stretch which almost pushed their lead to double digits.
Eventually Pride got a match point at 24-16. The crowd was on their feet chanting “Seven Nation Army” by White Stripes. Baruch avoided the first match point but couldn’t stop Springfield on the second and Pride took the set 25-17 and the game in three straight sets. Sophomores Steven Coniglio and Jack McKee led Baruch in kills with nine each.
These two players have been some of the most important pieces of this year’s team. Both of them were named to the All Star team for the regular season and McKee was named the Most Valuable Player of the CUNYAC Tournament. Coniglio expressed regret over the team’s performance. “Passing broke down a lot and if you don’t pass you don’t play. We couldn’t hit, we couldn’t do anything”
McKee said Springfield was simply a much better team. “Honestly, it was very difficult to play against a team like Springfield. They are a dominant team.” He was disappointed that the scoreboard appeared so one sided and said he felt Baruch should have bridged some of the gap between the teams. “We’re not a 12,16 and 17 team. We’re more of a 25-21 team,” he said.
The game against Springfield caps off a season that saw the team win its fourth straight CUNY Championship. Their 24-6 record earned them a berth to the inaugural NCAA Division III Tournament where they swept Elms College in a play in game before they lost to Springfield in the quarterfinal. It was the second time in school history that Baruch hosted an NCAA tournament game at the ARC Arena.