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The Emmanuel Saints men’s volleyball team faced the number one team in the country, the Springfield College Pride on Tuesday night and held their own against the elite team, but couldn’t pull out the win in a 3-1 loss (25-23, 16-25, 9-25, 13-25) at the Jean Yawkey Center Gym.
The pre-game routines for the two rivals were completely opposite. The Pride had two different huddles, one of the bench players and one with the starters. While the Saints were all in one huddle, unified as one team. They knew this would be a fight they would have to put their bodies and hearts on the line to win.
The match started off with a bang as Jorge Rojas ’17 served an ace, leading to a 3-0 run by the Saints, and forcing the Pride to call an early timeout to begin come up with a new strategy. The two teams began their battle, putting everything they had on the line, diving on the gym floor to save every last ball. Very soon the Saints took control thanks to six straight points with Barrett Wingard ’16 serving, the last of which came on one of five Emmanuel aces on the night.
The Saints were now up 18-15, but the Pride began to crawl back into the game. Soon it was tied at 21, but that would not stop Julian Hess ’16 from delivering a heart-wrenching kill to take the lead. This allowed Emmanuel to take the momentum and win the set 25-23. The crowd was energizing the players as the won they first set against the best team in the nation. The unity of the team was their strength of the set.
The Saints win the first set against the top team in the nation!!!
— EC Saints (@ECSaints) February 3, 2016
We took a set off the best team in the country. We're onto Cairn #ECMVB
— Drew Fox Jordan (@DrewFoxJordan) February 3, 2016
The second set started off slow for the Saints as the Pride used three men on the net to block a significant amount of attempted Saints kills. The Pride’s block party began, and they got off to an 8-1 lead to which the Saints couldn’t find an answer.
A timeout by Emmanuel was called and soon after the Saints went on a run starting with a kill from Drew Jordan ’16. They went on a 4-point streak to bring the lead into reach, although the Pride were not going to let the Saints come marching down. They stormed away using their three-man wall and won the second set 25-16.
The beginning of the third set was an even battle. Kevin Orsley ’19 fired up the crowd and the team with a blazing kill to take the lead 5-4. The Pride then began to take the lead to the point were the communication, that was the power of the Saints in the first set, had disappeared. The Saints understood they had to work as team once again when Andres Saladrigas ’19 dove into the stands to make a play on the ball. Sadly, this wouldn’t help them as they went down 25-9.
Even with a furious start to the fourth set by the Saints with two huge kills, the Saints couldn’t get around the block party the Pride continued to lay on them. Springfield took a huge lead that Emmanuel couldn’t recover from going down 25-13. The Pride had 20 blocks in the match while the Saints had only two. The Saints fall to 2-2 with the loss.
The next home game for the men’s volleyball team will be next Thursday, February 11, against Elms College (6-2) at 8:00 p.m. in the Jean Yawkey Center Gym.
Trevor Nataupsky ’19 is a sports writer for The Hub. He can be followed on Twitter at @TheBigTuna511.