University Park, Pa. - The No. 14 Loyola University Chicago men's volleyball team (4-1) suffered its first loss of the 2011 season on Friday evening, falling 3-1 (21-25, 25-16, 25-20, 29-27) to No. 9 Penn State (5-1) at the Recreation Building in University Park, Pa.
Coming into Friday's match winning the last two meetings against the Nittany Lions, the Ramblers moved out quickly in the first set and earned the win, 25-21. In the frame, Loyola posted a .571 hitting percentage and picked up impressive starts from Mike Bunting and Mike Hutz. Bunting managed eight kills, while Hutz posted 17 assists to lead the way.
The second and third sets featured a more aggressive Penn State squad, as the home team pulled out early leads and took advantage of Loyola miscues. In the second set alone, the Nittany Lions closed out on a 10-3 run to win handily, 25-16.
In third set, Loyola fell behind 3-9, but drew within two points at 11-13. As seen in set two, Penn State erupted on another run, taking a six-point lead midway through the frame. A Joseph Smalzer kill sparked a three-point Rambler run of their own to bring the set within reach. From here, however, the Nittany Lions settled in and earned seven more points, leading to a 25-20 set win.
In the fourth and what would be final set, Loyola came out swinging early, picking up four kills from Torey Darin and two from Bunting to move ahead 6-1. Just as soon as Loyola found its five-point lead, Penn State brought the set back to a one-point contest at 7-6. The teams battled for points throughout the final frame, and when it appeared Loyola had a chance to move the match into a fifth set, the Nittany Lions found late kills from Joe Sunder to take the win 29-27.
Bunting finished the match with 17 kills on 36 attempts. Smalzer added 11 kills, while Tim Frydendall ended with six. Hutz managed 30 assists in four sets of action. Sunder posted a game-high 28 kills in the win for Penn State.
Loyola will now travel to Loretto, Pa. where they will face St. Francis (Pa) on Saturday, Jan. 29. First serve is set for 6:00 p.m. CST.