Columbus, Ohio- Despite a late comeback effort, the No. 12 Loyola men’s volleyball was unable to stop a steady Buckeye offensive attack on Saturday evening, falling 3-1 to No. 5 Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio.
Loyola is now 3-1 in the MIVA, and moves to 12-4 overall this season. The Ramblers fall for the first time since Feb. 5, ending a seven match winning-streak. Ohio State now stands alone atop the conference at 4-0 and 14-2 overall.
Loyola jumped out to an early 4-3 lead in the first set with a quartet of kills, led by Steve Thompson with two. The lead wouldn’t last, however, as the Buckeyes rebounded a few points later to take an 11-7 advantage. Ohio State extended its lead to 17-11 after a string of Rambler errors and kills from Buckeye John Klanac. Loyola answered back and cut the lead to five at 15-20. The comeback attempt was too late, though, as the Buckeyes finished the set with three kills from its outside attack to take the set 25-18.
Ohio State continued to step up its game in the second frame, moving ahead 7-4 in the early going. The Ramblers responded when Dainis Berzins fired a kill and the Buckeyes forced an error to make the score 7-6 in favor of the home team. From here, Ohio State once again took control by going on two separate runs (5-2 and 4-1) to finish the set with a 25-17 win.
In the third set, Loyola turned to its frontline for production and found it throughout the frame from Joseph Smalzer and Mike Bunting. With the Ramblers taking the lead late at 16-13, Smalzer fired back-to-back kills to increase the lead to five. Moments later, Bunting went on a two kill spree of his own, putting the score at 23-18. At set point, Eric Daliege mustered a point to give Loyola the 25-21 frame win.
With momentum heading into the fourth set, the Ramblers moved out to a 7-3 lead thanks to a slew of kills from Bunting, Smalzer and Daliege. Instead of increasing its lead, though, Loyola regressed, and Ohio State took advantage. The Buckeyes jumped ahead at 10-9 and never looked back, as Buckeyes Klanac and Jason Tobkin started to find their rhythm at the right time. Although Loyola picked up late kills from Smalzer and Thompson, Ohio State held its ground and sealed the win with a kill from Kevin Heine to take the frame 25-21.
Bunting and Smalzer led the Rambler offense with 15 and 16 kills, respectively. Dailege paced the middle hitters with six. Mike Hutz added 34 assists and eight digs on Saturday.
The Ramblers will stay on the road for their next match, when they head to the Golden State on March 9 to play Cal State Northridge. First serve is scheduled for 9:00 p.m. CST.