Springfield College def. Stevens Institute of Technology 3-0 (25-20, 25-14, 25-9)
- Springfield College Pride wins 2018 NCAA Division III National Championship over Stevens Ducks
- Host: Carthage College, Kenosha, Wisconsin
- Attendance: 550
- Box Score
Springfield College won its 5th official NCAA Division III Championship in 7 appearances (and 7 possible titles) on Saturday in Kenosha, Wisconsin by avenging their 2015 sweep at the hands of Stevens. After a physically and emotionally taxing win in the semi-finals a night earlier, Stevens struggled to muster much attack offensively or resistance defensively, before eventually being swept away by Springfield.
Springfield College finishes the year 31-2 overall, including a perfect 29-0 against Division III opponents. Stevens ends the year 27-5 (27-3 in D3), marking their 12th season of 25 wins under head coach Patrick Dorywalski.
Springfield locked down its rotation to just 8 players for the championship game, and their star and AVCA National Player of the Year Sergio Figueroa Velez did what he’s done all season: played biggest in the biggest games. He had 13 kills and just 2 errors on 28 swings for a .293 hitting percentage. Coupled with 2 aces, 7 digs, and a block assist, his 15.5 points led all scorers with an all-around contribution to the victory.
He was joined in double-figures by Ricardo Padilla Ayala, who had 12 kills (.375 hitting). Sean Zuvich, who led the team with 11 kills in the semi-finals, had just 5 in the finals – but so powerful is the Pride’s nation-leading offense, that they still hit .351 even with limited contributions from him.
Meanwhile, the Springfield defense, using a 47-32 digs advantage, out-hit Stevens .351-.022. The result marked a new record in official NCAA D3 championship game defensive dominance. Springfield allowed both the fewest points and the lowest hitting percentage in the 7-year history of the event:
|Losing Team||Losing Team Points||Lowest Set Score||Losign Team Hitting Percentage|
For Stevens, after a semi-final where they were able to take advantage of poor libero play from Dominican, they struggled to find the floor against Springfield. Still using a massive 14 player rotation, the Ducks had just 20 kills (with 18 errors) and no aces in the game. Their All-American outside hitters (they’ve got 5 All-Americans on the roster) struggled again, with the starters Gabe Shankweiler and Dylan DeBoer combining for 9 kills and a -.020 hitting percentage on 48 attempts. Cooper Diamond (4 kills on 10 swings) and Thomas Burrell (5 kills, 0 errors, on 11 swings) again were efficient offensively, but they didn’t get enough attempts to sway the match.
The Stevens offense further deteriorated by the match’s end, hitting -.067 in the 3rd and final set where they scored only 9 points.