After a long two-day tournament, Fairfield men’s volleyball club became the New England Club Volleyball League Champions.
Fairfield faced off against Marist in the championship round where they went 3-0, with a final score in the last game of 25-23.
The Stags started the tournament on Saturday, March 28 and faced off against three different teams. Having the advantage of the home team, playing in Alumni Hall, Fairfield was victorious in all matches but one, where they lost to the Community College of Rhode Island. After a day of great play, the Stags anxiously waited for the next day to capture the championship.
On Sunday, the Stags took on Sacred Heart University and beat them in a two game set, 25-17 and 25-21. Advancing to the next round of play, the University of New Haven Chargers put up a fight but the Stags were ultimately able to defeat New Haven in a three game set, (25-21) (23-25) (15-12). The championship round came down to Fairfield and Marist, where Fairfield’s skills were put to the test. Heading into the game, captain James Law ‘15 knew how these championships had ended in the past. Being a member of the team for four years and losing in regionals in 3 of those years, Law knew that the team needed to change their mindset in order to get the win.
“I told them that we’ve been working all season for this and it all leads up to this,” said Law. “We’ve had such a great year that we don’t want to ruin it now. Just play your hearts out.”
In the first set, getting the win was no problem for the team. The Stags took the first set as they cruised to a 25-19 lead. However, Marist turned up the intensity in the next two sets. At one point in the second set, Marist held a 10 point lead. The Stags powered through, however, and were able to win back the set 27-25.
“When we were down in the second game everyone on the team came together and we all pushed for the win,” said Law. “Our fans were awesome and so were our players on the bench.”
In the third and final set, Marist continued to be relentless despite their two game deficit.
“Nothing was given to us,” said Paul Malaspina ‘16. “Marist made us fight hard for every point down to the very last point of the third set.”
Down late in the third game, the Stags were able to come back and narrowly edge Marist 25-23.
Cheers and screams resonated through Alumni Hall, as the players and fans joined together in celebration. Law couldn’t have been happier with the team.
“We played really well. There were some spots where we weren’t playing as good as we should,” said Law, “but the leaders on the team really talked to everyone and got everyone to settle.”
After a long season full of many tournaments and long hours of practice, the Stags were finally able to execute and win the championship.
“These guys are the hardest workers and best teammates you can ever come by and they really showed it, not just at this tournament but throughout the whole year at every practice,” said Malaspina. “So, it is no wonder why we were able to achieve such a great outcome.”
Next season the Stags will have to manage play without their team captain, as he is set to graduate this year. But the team has learned from their leader, and they will continue to take what they learned and apply it in upcoming seasons. The Stags will be returning back for the fall season with nearly a full roster, including sophomore Danny Joseph and Malaspina. The team will look to continue to be the champions of the New England Club Volleyball division.