Defending NCAA D3 champions Springfield College made it a perfect 7-for-7 on qualifying for the national championship game since the first official tournament in 2012, while Stevens set up a rematch of the 2015 title game in Thursday evening’s semi-finals.
Playing in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on the campus of Carthage College, Springfield College swept Vassar 3-0 in the early game, while Stevens fought off a Dominican University team with momentum 3-2 to advance.
Springfield College def. Vassar 3-0
- Springfield def. Vassar 3-0 (27-25. 25-21 .26-24)
- Tarble Arena, Kenowsha, Wisconsin
- NCAA Division III Championship semi-final #1
- Attendance: 310
- Box Score
The defending champions Springfield were able to withstand the early onslaught of Vassar’s 3-time First-Team All-American Matthew Knigge, and after that rolled downhill to a 3-set sweep. The teams’ two prior outcomes this season also ended in 3-0 sweeps in favor of Springfield.
Knigge had 7 of his 13 kills in the first set, and Springfield held him overall to a .321 hitting percentage (13 kills, 3 errors, 28 swings) – well below his season average of .425. Vassar college fed their star more than they have all season – the 28 attempts was by-far his highest output in a 3-set match this season, and his 3rd-most attempts of any match this season.
Springfield held Knigge in check, and kept the rest of the team to just .127 hitting combined. Vassar was able to counter somewhat with defense of their own, limiting Springfield’s offense, the most efficient in the nation this season, to just .304 hitting (in context, a modest number for them). National Player of the Year Sergio Figueroa Valez had 8 kills and 5 errors on 23 swings, chipping in 1 aces (but 4 service errors), 5 digs, and a solo block. They’ll need more offense and fewer errors from him to feel confident against Stevens in the championship match.
Redshirt senior Sean Zuvich picked up some of the slack with his second-straight 11 kill, .500+ hitting percentage game in the NCAA tournament. He had 0 errors on 20 swings to boot.
Defensively, a trio of Pride had 3 block assists: Joseth Irizarry Feliciano, Mike Neary, and Kyle Jasuta, who also chipped in a solo stuff. In total, Springfield out-blocked Vassar 8-6.
Springfield will face Stevens Institute of Technology in the final – a team that swept them 3-0 in the 2015 championship game.
Post-game press conferences:
Stevens def. Dominican 3-2
- Stevens def. Dominican 3-2 (32-34, 25-22, 24-26, 25-23, 15-9)
- Tarble Arena, Kenowsha, Wisconsin
- NCAA Division III Championship semi-final #2
- Attendance: 630
- Box Score
Setting up a rematch of the 2015 NCAA Championship match in the late game, Stevens beat the Cinderellas of the tournament Dominican University 3-2. For comparison of levels of fatigue heading into the short turnaround for the championship: Stevens had to play 235 points to get their win, while Springfield only had to play 148 points in their semi-final. On the other hand, Springfield used only 10 players in their win, while Stevens’ load was spread among 15 different players.
The most successful among those 15 were 4 Ducks players in double-figures. Gabe Shankweller and Dylan DeBoer had 17 and 19 kills, respectively, but hit a combined .191 on 89 swings for the night. While Shankweller and DeBoer swung often on the night (and they earned it with 7 and 9 digs, respectively), their middle blockers Cooper Diamond and Thomas Burrell added some efficiency to a slopping-swinging night for both teams. Diamond had 11 kills and 0 errors on 17 swings (.647), while Burrell had 11 kills and 2 errors on 16 swings (.563 hitting percentage).
Stevens out-hit Dominican .250-.182.
Blocks were rampant in this match, with Dominican recording 17 as a team and Stevens picking up 16. That includes 9 block assists and 2 solo blocks for Burrell to give him his first career double-digit block night and first-career double-double. Dominican’s Nick Timreck matched him with 2 solo and 9 block assists, though he only had 4 kills to match with it.
A pair of Dominican Stars had double-doubles in the game.. Ethan Kolsak had 18 kills and 11 digs, while Luke Spicer led Dominican with 22 kills (8 errors, 54 swings, .259 hitting) and added 10 digs. One of his teammates also confirmed that he lost a tooth diving into the stands to chase a ball.
While Dominican had 45 digs on the night, including 11 from libero David DeMacro, their back-row defense struggled throughout the match.
Stevens’ offense settled-in late in the match, hitting .320, .306, and .375 in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th sets, respectively (though they managed to out-hit Dominican .320 to .036 in the 3rd set and still lose, thanks in part to 6 service errors). Stevens peaked at the right moment, looking dominant for the first time all night in the 5th-and-final set.
Post-Game Press Conferences: