By Taylor Viles – Sports Editor
The men’s volleyball team sent the Laser faithful into a frenzy last night at the Athletic Center after beating the number one ranked Division III program in the country, the Springfield College Pride, 3-1. The win marked the first time Lasell had beaten Springfield in program history.
“That was really cool,” said head coach Jeff Vautrin minutes after the win. “These guys really played their hearts out today.”
The Lasell fan base showed up in a big way during the match and Coach Vautrin made sure to mention their importance postgame. “I have to say a huge thank you to the Lasell community,” he said. “This atmosphere and this crowd were something very special and helped us along the way.”
The Pride entered Tuesday with everything to lose. As the top ranked Division III men’s volleyball program in the nation according to the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA), they boasted a 13-0 record and were used to annihilating teams in their path.
This game was different though. Besides Springfield, Lasell was arguably the hottest team in division three volleyball, having won eight straight matches and was the only team in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) still undefeated in conference play (5-0).
Set 1- Lasell wins 25-22
Lasell needed a few points to wake up and realize just who they were playing. It was a 5-0 lead right away for the Pride in the first set, but the Lasers began to gain traction, eventually pulling even at 9-9. Again Springfield pulled ahead 15-10 with junior Jarrett Anderson serving. Anderson was hot in the first half of the match and cooled off from the service line in the second half. He finished with seven service aces (SA) and six service errors (SE).
Then, junior Brenden Joyce stepped up to serve for the Lasers and gave his team the perfect boost. Seven straight points propelled Lasell into the set lead, 17-15. That two-point cushion was all that was needed to secure an early win. Springfield kept it close and even brought the score even at 21 apiece, but the Lasers weren’t threatened and won four of five points to end the set.
Set 2- Springfield wins 31-29
The second set turned into an unexpected thriller. Both teams went back and forth until midway through when a commanding kill by first-year Jordan Shinaut brought Lasell’s deficit to just one, at 15-14. Shinaut led the Lasers in kills during the match, as he often does, with 15. He was responsible for 17 points and registered a .323 hitting percentage.
Springfield began to pull away with a three-point lead, but the Lasers didn’t back down. Even after Springfield took a five-point lead 22-17, the Lasers clawed back, winning six of the next seven points to knot up the set at 23-23.
Then, the chaos began. The Pride was one point away from securing the victory five times in a row, and each time the Lasers fought back to tie it back up. It was a show of tenacity and a will-not-quit attitude. On the sixth one-point advantage for Springfield, Lasell was unable to counter and an attack error by Shinaut secured the win for the visitors.
Set 3- Lasell wins 25-19
Although Springfield should have felt an incredible momentum boost from the hard-fought second-set win, it was Lasell that dominated in the third set. After going back and forth for the first several points, the Lasers opened up a five-point lead, 18-13. The lead was enough to push the team to the victory as the set went point for point until its conclusion.
A powerful kill by Joyce gave Lasell the 2-1 set lead and sent Springfield to the brink of its first loss of the season. Joyce finished with the second most kills on the team at 14, helping to power his team through the final two sets. He also picked up two SA and was responsible for 19.5 points.
Set 4- Lasell wins 25-17
The fourth set started as a stalemate, just as the first three sets had. The score was tied up at 10 giving Springfield a prime opportunity to show what makes them the best team in the country. Instead, Lasell began to pull away again. The Lasers won 12 of 15 points to end the set, including six in a row to give the team a 24-17 point lead. Again, Joyce finished off the Pride with a last point kill to secure the victory.
Lasell improves its overall record to 11-5 overall, and is now primed to enter the top 15 teams in the nation when next week’s rankings are made public. Meanwhile, Springfield drops to 13-1.
Up next, Lasell will head on the road to defend its now nine-game winning streak against number 12 ranked Wentworth on Thursday. Next up will be Dean College this Tuesday before playing back at home against MIT. The first two are important conference matchups that will test whether the Lasers can remain undefeated in GNAC play.