Despite the jeers and cheers of the home team fans packed into the Kennedy Sports and Recreation Center, Springfield took its third-consecutive NCAA DIII men's volleyball title over Juniata.The 25-20, 25-21, 25-21 win marked the second year in a row that the Pride defeated the host team in the national championship match. (Last year's final was scheduled to be played at MIT but was moved to Nazareth at the last minute following the Boston Marathon bombings.)
This year's championship match point saw Springfield sophomore Eric Johnson launch the serve and Juniata's opposite Alex McColgin swing just out down the sideline. The 2014 title makes nine total DIII national championships for Springfield (the DIII men's volleyball championship has been NCAA-sanctioned only since 2012).
Juniata brought its own list of accomplishments to the match. The six-time national champs earned a 29-5 record this season, including two wins over national semifinalist and tournament No. 5 seed Carthage in the regular season and an upset of No. 2-seeded SUNY New Paltz in the second semifinal match on Saturday, April 26.
The two teams had even met in the national championships previously, 11 years before in 2003. Then too, Springfield took the title. However, this season marked the first time Juniata and Springfield didn't meet in the regular season.
Springfield's 6'0" sophomore outside Luis Vega who hails from Corozal, Puerto Rico, was named the tournament Most Outstanding Player for the second year in a row after collecting 17 kills and four blocks. The Pride as a team hit an impressive .431.
Jimmy O'Leary, Springfield's 6'6" middle blocker, also received national recognition, earning the AVCA's DIII Player of the Year honor.