Nazareth Wins Final Molten Men’s Title Over Springfield

April 16, 2011, 10:18 p.m. (ET)

Bill Kauffman
Associate Director, Communications
Phone: 719-228-6800

Box Score

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (April 16, 2011) – Second-seed Nazareth (31-3) topped No. 1 seed and defending champion Springfield College (16-14) 25-23, 22-25, 25-23, 25-22 to win the 15th and final Molten Division III Men’s Invitational Volleyball Championship Saturday evening on Nazareth’s home court in Rochester, N.Y. The Golden Flyers ended the season with a 22-match win streak.

Nazareth, which finished fourth in the Molten last year in its only other appearance, became just the fourth team to win the tournament on its home court. Springfield was shooting for its seventh Molten title and breaking a tie for the most first-place finishes with Juniata College. Nazareth, the first NECVA conference team to win the title, broke a string of 10 consecutive Molten Division III Men’s Invitational Volleyball Championships won either by Springfield or Juniata. Earlier this year the NCAA approved a Division III men’s championship that will begin in 2012.

While Springfield was the top seed in the tournament, both teams were tied for first place in the most recent American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Division III Men’s Top 15 Coaches Poll released on April 12.

Hans Schroeder, the most valuable player of the tournament, led Nazareth with 15 kills on 28 attacks to go with two blocks. Robert Kraft added 14 kills on 19 swings for a .684 hitting efficiency, in addition to a block and ace for the Golden Flyers. Billy Gimello charted 13 kills, two aces and 13 digs as part of a double-double-double performance. EJ Wells-Spicer provided Nazareth with 53 assists in the victory.

Springfield’s Alberto Bravo scored a match-high 25 kills on a .500 hitting efficiency to go with three aces, two blocks and seven digs. Greg Falcone added nine kills on 16 attacks, two aces and two blocks. Mike Pelletier charted eight kills and a block, while Cal Palumbo tacked on five kills on nine errorless attacks, three blocks and an ace. Mike Becker dished out 50 assists to go with three kills and two blocks.

Nazareth held a 35-31 advantage in digs and took advantage of 25 Springfield service errors. The Pride held a 6-3 margin in aces and blocks. Springfield hit .421 as a team in comparison to Nazareth’s .393 attack efficiency.

Earlier in the evening, Carthage College (23-11) defeated Baruch College (34-16) 25-19, 25-22, 25-17 in the Molten Division III Men’s Invitational Volleyball Championship consolation match.

Nazareth built a 12-9 advantage early in the first set and led 17-14 before Springfield rallied to tie the score at 17-all with a Bravo ace. The Pride scored a fourth straight point with a combined block by Becker and Palumbo for their first lead of the set at 18-17. Nazareth returned to the lead at 20-19 with a Springfield service and setting error. Nazareth reached set point with a Gimello kill and ace at 24-22, then Walsh powered a kill down to win 25-23. Both teams hit efficiently in the set with Springfield at .483 and Nazareth at .476. However, Springfield committed eight service errors.

Springfield opened the second set with a Falcone ace and Tommy Crowe block for a 2-0 lead, then went up 4-1 following an ace from Bravo. After trailing 9-5, Nazareth scored three consecutive points capped by a Kraft ace to close to within 9-8. Consecutive Nazareth kills by Schroeder and Kraft led to a 15-all timeout and Pride timeout. Springfield extended its cushion to 19-17 with a Bravo kill and combined block from Becker and Palumbo. However, Nazareth returned to a 19-all tie with a Brian Bunch kill after a Springfield service error. A Pelletier solo block followed a Bravo kill to yield a 23-21 Springfield advantage. The Pride evened the match after Nazareth hit into the net at 25-22. Through the second set, Springfield was hitting at a .509 team efficiency to offset 16 service errors to Nazareth’s .327 hitting efficiency and four service errors.

Nazareth gained a two-point edge at 3-1 early in the third set with consecutive Springfield errors. The Pride tied the set at 6-all with a Bravo kill and combined block by Falcone and Bravo. Nazareth scored three straight points for an 11-8 advantage with consecutive kills from Gimello and Schroeder, followed by a Golden Flyer block. Nazareth increased its advantage to 14-10 following a Pride attack error. Springfield trimmed the deficit to one at 14-13 with consecutive Bravo kills and Golden Flyer attack error. The Pride tied the set at 16-all after a Nazareth service error and Falcone ace leading to a Golden Flyer timeout. Springfield scored three straight points to assume a two-point cushion at 19-17 as Bravo served an ace between a Nazareth error and Jeff Gutmann kill. Nazareth tied the set again at 19-all after a Gimello ace, then Schroeder and Walsh put up a block to return the Golden Flyers back into the lead at 20-19. However, Springfield reversed the lead back to its side at 21-20 with a Gutmann kill and Nazareth ball handling error. Nazareth answered with two points of its own at 22-21 with kills from Bunch and Schroeder. Nazareth ended the set at 25-23 thanks to a Springfield attack going long after a Schroeder kill.

Schroeder and Gimello opened the fourth set with back-to-back kills to give Nazareth a 2-0 lead. The Golden Flyers stretched the lead to 5-2 as Kraft and Bunch collected consecutive kills. Springfield sliced the gap to one at 6-5 with consecutive Falcone kills. Nazareth increased its lead to 16-13 with a Schroeder kill followed by a combined block from Schroeder and Kraft. Following a Pride timeout, Nazareth stretched the lead to 17-13 with a Pride attack error. Nazareth extended the lead to 19-14 with consecutive kills from Schroeder and Kraft. Springfield scored consecutive points from Pelletier and Bravo leading Nazareth to call timeout with a 21-18 advantage. Bravo slammed a kill off the block to close the gap to 21-19. The Pride pulled to within one at 23-22 after a Gutmann kill and Nazareth attack error. Kraft ended the set with a kill on championship point for a 25-22 victory.

Molten U.S.A., Inc. is the “Official Volleyball of the Division III Men’s Invitational Volleyball Championship.” Sports Imports is the “Official Net System Supplier of the Division III Men’s Invitational Volleyball Championship.” Mizuno USA is the “Official Apparel & Shoe Sponsor of the Division III Men’s Invitational Volleyball Championship.”

Tournament History with Final Placing:
2011: 1. Nazareth; 2. Springfield; 3. Carthage; 4. Baruch (hosted by Nazareth)
2010: 1. Springfield; 2. UC Santa Cruz; 3. Carthage; 4. Nazareth (hosted by Carthage)
2009: 1. Juniata; 2. Stevens; 3. UC Santa Cruz; 4. Ramapo (hosted by Ramapo)
2008: 1. Springfield; 2. Vassar; 3. UC Santa Cruz; 4. Juniata (hosted by Springfield)
2007: 1. Juniata; 2. Carthage; 3. Springfield; 4. Stevens (hosted by Juniata)
2006: 1. Juniata; 2. UC Santa Cruz; 3. Stevens; 4. Rivier (hosted by Stevens)
2005: 1. Juniata; 2. Carthage; 3. Stevens; 4. Medaille (hosted by Stevens)
2004: 1. Juniata; 2. Medaille; 3. UC Santa Cruz; 4. Eastern Mennonite (hosted by Eastern Mennonite)
2003: 1. Springfield; 2. Juniata; 3. La Verne; 4. Stevens (hosted by Juniata)
2002: 1. Springfield; 2. La Verne; 3. NYU; 4. Lehman (hosted by NYU)
2001: 1. Springfield; 2. D’Youville; 3. Clarke; 4. Vassar (hosted by Springfield)
2000: 1. UC San Diego; 2. NYU; 3. D’Youville; 4. Stevens (hosted by Stevens)
1999: 1. La Verne; 2. D’Youville; 3. Clarke; 4. Juniata (hosted by Clarke)
1998: 1. Juniata; 2. La Verne; 3. Springfield; 4. Eastern Mennonite (hosted by Springfield)
1997: 1. Springfield; 2. NJIT; 3. Juniata; 4. UC San Diego (hosted by Juniata)