CHICAGO - Despite a strong start with a thrilling first set win, the Loyola University Chicago men's volleyball team couldn't contain a balanced Cardinal attack, as No. 4 Stanford powers its way to a 3-1 win over Loyola on Saturday evening at Alumni Gym.
The Ramblers lose for the first time at home since April 3, 2009 season, a streak of 22 straight wins. Stanford is now 8-2 this season with the road win. Loyola has dropped three of its last four matches, moving to 5-3 (1-0) this season.
After competing in a five set match last evening against IPFW, the Ramblers came out with a burst of energy in first set, feeding off the packed crowd in Alumni Gym.
With the opening set knotted at 2-2, Mike Bunting started a massive Rambler run with a kill to the right corner off a Mike Hutz pass. Point after point Loyola didn't give up the lead. In fact, they increased it by as many as nine at 21-12 late in the frame. Another Bunting kill gave the Ramblers a 22-13 lead. Fortunately for Loyola, that's all the offense needed, as Stanford totaled three team errors to provide the Ramblers a 25-18 first set win.
The momentum was clearly in Loyola's corner after posting a .667 hitting percentage heading into the second set.
The tables turned, however, quickly for the home team. Stanford put together an impressive second frame with 10 team kills on 15 attempts. The Cardinal gained the lead at 6-1 and never looked back, increasing the advantage to 14-5 then 16-8. Although Loyola made one last attempt at a comeback, Stanford put the gas to the floor and finished with a 25-14 second set win.
The third set mirrored the first frame in many ways, as Loyola came out firing with Joseph Smalzer and Mike Hutz posting kills to bring the score to 6-6. Bunting followed with two more kills, giving Loyola a 9-7 advantage. As the teams traded points throughout the set, Loyola fell back 18-19 at a crucial point in the set. The Ramblers responded when middle hitter Eric Daliege evened up the contest with a kill splitting the Stanford defense. All square at 19-19, the teams again traded points, but this time Stanford moved ahead with after a Daliege error, followed by a 5-3 run to win the third set, 25-22.
In the fourth and final set, Stanford pulled out to a 7-2 lead after feeding off Rambler errors and earning kills of their own. Loyola stormed back to make the score 15-13 in favor of Stanford midway through. A Cardinal kill moments later provided the visitors a comfortable lead, one they would not give up. Although Kyle Exline dropped a late kill, Stanford held on to a 25-21 fourth set win.
Bunting guided the Loyola offense with a game-high 21 kills. Smalzer had nine kills and Daliege posted eight kills. Hutz distributed 40 assists in the loss. Stanford's Brad Lawson managed 18 kills in the road victory.
Loyola will return next week when BYU visits Alumni Gym on Feb. 11, 2011. First serve is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. CST.