There have only been seven NCAA men’s Division III titles to win and the Pride now owns five of them, the first three — 2012, 2013, 2014 — last year and now 2018 after crushing Stevens Institute on Saturday.
On the beach Saturday, top-ranked UCLA won the Pac-12 tournament and No. 3 Hawai’i won the Big West, all with an eye on Sunday’s 7 p.m. Eastern announcement of who will be in the field of eight for Friday’s NCAA Collegiate Beach Championships.
Springfield reigns supreme: Springfield finished 31-2 after losing its first match of the season to the MPSF’s Concordia and then its last match of the regular season to the EIVA’s NJIT. In between, the Pride beat everyone at its own level, including Stevens 25-20, 25-14, 25-9 in an hour, 25 minutes before a crowd of 550 at Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisc.
The AVCA DIII player of the year, senior outside Sergio Figuero Velez, led the Pride with 13 kills as he hit .393, had two of his team’s four aces, seven digs and a block. Ricardo Padilla Ayala had 12 kills, hit .375 and had three digs and an ace and Joseth Irizarry Feliciano had seven kills and three blocks. All three are from Puerto Rico.
Setter Mike Neary was named the tournament’s outstanding player. He had 38 assists, an ace and five digs. His team hit .351.
Not only has Springfield won five of the seven NCAA titles, it lost in the championship match in 2015 to Stevens and in 2016 to SUNY New Paltz.
Stevens ended its season 27-5 after hitting .022 and having no aces and nine errors. Gabe Shankweiler and Thomas Burrell had five kills each.
Beach field: The announcement is set for 7 p.m. on NCAA.com.
Three teams come from the East, and that’s almost definitely going to include seventh-ranked Florida State and No. 8 LSU. The third will either be No. 9 South Carolina, No. 10 Florida International or No. 11 Georgia State.
The top three teams from the West will start with top-ranked UCLA and No. 2 Pepperdine. Either third-ranked Hawai’i and two-time defending-champion No. 5 USC seem likely to get the third spot and with the other getting one of the two at-larges. Also in the at-large consideration will be No. 4 Cal Poly and No. 6 Long Beach State.
Pac-12: UCLA did nothing to hurt its chances of being the top-seed in the NCAA field as the Bruins won the inaugural conference title.
The Bruins on Saturday beat USC 3-2, forcing the Trojans into an elimination match. USC bounced back by sweeping Cal 5-0, setting up the title match.
And UCLA, which goes into the NCAA tourney on a 30-match win streak and a record of 35-3 beat USC again, this time 3-1.
At No. 4 Elise Zappia and Mac May defeated USC’s Jenna Belton and Maja Kaiser 21-17, 21-17.
USC won at 5 when Alexandra Poletto and Haley Hallgren defeated Izzy Carey and Megan Muret 21-17, 21-17.
Twins Megan McNamara and Nicole McNamara put the Bruins up 2-1 with their first win over USC’s Tina Graudina and Abril Bustamante 21-19, 21-15 at No. 1.
Sophomores Madi Yeomans and Savvy Simo clinched it with a 21-19, 21-16 win at No. 3 over USC’s Joy Dennis and Cammie Dorn.
For all of Friday’s and Saturday’s results, click here.
Big West: Make that three league crowns in a row for Hawai’i, which beat Long Beach State 4-1 in Saturday’s tournament title match.
Hawai’i rolled over Long Beach 5-0 in the semifinals, losing just one set at No. 5 when Paige Dreeuws and Hannah Zalopany beat Hannah Matt and Marisa Ramsey 23-21, 19-21, 15-13.
In the final, Long Beach’s lone win came at No. 1 as Sasha Karelov and Nele Barber beat Ka’iwi Schucht and Emily Maglio 20-22, 21-11, 18-16.
The SandBows are 35-3. The Big West continues play Sunday with its single-elimination pairs competition.