Fort Wayne, IN - Battling back after a sluggish start, the IPFW Mastodons were unable to surmount a powerful Rambler attack, as they fell to No. 11 Loyola in four sets, 25-21, 26-24, 23-25, 25-23.
Darryl Shank paced the IPFW attack with 16 kills, followed by Ivan Matos' 13 and Eddie Rivera's 11 markers on a .381 attack percentage.
Loyola outlasted IPFW in an ugly opening set that saw a combined .031 hitting percentage. After falling behind 17-10, IPFW rattled off a quick five-point run to bring the match to within two points. A Loyola whistle brought the run to a halt and sparked a 5-2 Rambler run that pushed the visitors to a 22-17 advantage. A kill by Mike Bunting brought the action to set-point and, after weathering a pair of IPFW points, the Ramblers closed out the opening frame, 25-21.
IPFW hit .000 overall in the set while the Ramblers posted a .056 clip.
Loyola leapt out to a 5-1 lead to open set number two. The feisty Mastodon squad powered ahead, eventually tying the set at five before taking the lead at 13-12. Back-to-back service aces by Eddie Rivera pushed the Mastodon advantage to a convincing 21-18 lead late. For the second time in as many sets, the Ramblers posted a late 5-2 run, this one knotting the match at 23. A kill by Darryl Shank gave IPFW a set-point opportunity, but they simply could not convert. The next two points swung in favor of the Ramblers as they took a two-set lead with a 26-24 lead.
Shank posted five of IPFW's 13 kills in a set that saw the 'Dons hit .280.
The third frame was neck-and-neck until late, with neither side taking a lead larger than two. A service ace by Garrett Bitter gave IPFW a 20-18 lead and the IPFW offense took advantage. With Jonathan Meyer on the serve, IPFW took a set-point opportunity after a Loyola attack error. After the following serve found the net, Shank closed out the third set, 25-23, by pounding out one of his team-high 16 kills.
In set three, Shank again stole the show, posting a .571 attack percentage on seven attempts.
Set number four saw IPFW build an early 11-9 lead that grew to as many as four at 18-14. Slowly chipping at the IPFW lead, Loyola eventually knotted the match at 21 after an IPFW mental miscue saw the ball drop in-bounds at the feet of two IPFW players. A kill by Loyola's Mike Bunting three rallies later pushed Loyola to match-point at 24-22. After a kill by Eddie Rivera, Rambler Eric Daliege closed out the set and match, 25-23.
As a team, IPFW out-blocked Loyola, 11-10. Junior Corey Frain led the category with six assists. Libero JW Kieckhefer posted 11 digs to lead IPFW and Adam Quinn tallied 38 assists for the 'Dons.
Head Coach Arnie Ball will go for win number 500 tonight as the 'Dons host the Carthage College Redmen. First serve in the match is slated for 7 p.m. at the Hilliard Gates Sports Center in Fort Wayne.