CHICAGO - Junior Mike Bunting led the Ramblers with 10 kills and a .667 hitting percentage, as the No. 14 Loyola men's volleyball team fought off a tough Cardinal Stritch squad 3-0 (30-28, 25-15, 25-18) on Friday evening at Alumni Gym.
With the win, Loyola is now 1-0 all-time against the Wolves. The Ramblers also improve to 3-0 this season, while Cardinal Stritch falls to .500 at 1-1.
As seen in the Carthage contest, the Ramblers came out steady in the first set, picking up points in bunches, but allowing their opponents to hang around until set's final stages.
Fortunately for Loyola, Bunting was on his game.
After falling behind early 0-4, the Ramblers marched back with a 5-1 run to even the contest at 5-5. Trading points was the theme the rest of the set, as it moved to 25-25 with Cardinal Stritch gaining momentum. However, Bunting and Joseph Smalzer tailed five late kills to give Loyola a 30-28 first set win.
In set two, the roles reversed as Loyola moved out ahead 4-0, only to see its lead vanish with four straight points from the Wolves. With the score tied at 10-10, the Ramblers turned up the heat on the chilly Chicago night, when Mike Hutz served Loyola to a 15-10 advantage. From here, the home team didn't look back, picking up its defense to close the set on a 10-5 run to win 25-15.
In the final set, the teams once again traded points early, bringing the score to 5-5. A kill from Steve Thompson broke the tie and provided Loyola a spark the remainder of the set. Cardinal Stritch didn't let up, though, and brought the score to 8-6 just a few points later. However, Thompson, Bunting, Smalzer, Domenic DeWaele and Danny Podkowa all found kills in the last frame to close out the set 25-18.
Bunting fired 10 kills, while Smalzer added nine. Podkowa and Torey Darin each totaled five kills. Hutz played the majority of the match and finished with 37 assists.
The Ramblers will return to action in 24 hours, when they welcome Lindenwood to Alumni Gym. First set is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. CST.