FORT WAYNE, Ind. - Senior Mike Hutz led the way with 42 assists and five digs, as the No. 11 Loyola men's volleyball held on to beat IPFW, 3-1 in a tough environment at the Gates Center on Friday evening in Fort Wayne, Ind.
With the hard-fought win, Loyola improves to 17-5 overall and 7-1 in the MIVA. IPFW falls to 2-6 in the conference, while dropping to 11-9 in 2011.
Loyola opened the first set attacking the Mastodon backline from both sides of the net, and took a five-point lead at 8-3. The Ramblers increased the lead to seven at 17-10, before IPFW stormed back with four-straight points to cut the Rambler advantage to three at 17-14. After a Loyola timeout, the home continued its comeback run to make it two-point contest. Not shaken, the Rambler offense returned to form late in the set, and regained a five-point lead at 22-17 after Mike Bunting posted a pair of kills. On the following play, Kyle Exline fired a key service ace to give Loyola a comfortable lead of six. The Mastodons didn't fold, though, adding back-to-back points off blocks to keep the set alive at 23-19. However, the Ramblers went back to Bunting, who powered two more kills to close the set win for Loyola, 25-21.
In the second frame, Loyola caught fire early once again, as Smalzer got the ball rolling with two kills to give the visitors a 5-1 cushion. IPFW answered back with another four-point run to tie the set at 5-5. The teams went back and forth on points--which included a Smalzer ace and Hutz solo block--until 18-18, when IPFW earned a trio of points off a kill and two aces to take the lead. After Loyola marched back and tied the match at 23-23, IPFW took a one-score lead and forced set point. Once again the Ramblers stifled the Mastodon attack, and earned set point of their own at 25-24. On the final play, Hutz placed a perfectly set ball to Smalzer, who then fired his ninth kill at that point to win the set, 26-24.
Back and forth the points went in the third set, when IPFW took the lead at 18-17. After a Loyola timeout, Eric Daliege answered with a powerful kill to the midcourt to tie the frame at 18-18. IPFW moved ahead and scored the next two points, before Dainis Berzins spiked a kill to make the score 20-19. After a Mastodon timeout, the home team earned two points off Rambler errors and found a kill to again earn set point at 24-22. Despite a late Rambler point, IPFW finished the set with a Darryl Shank kill to win, 25-23.
In the fourth frame, IPFW jumped out to a 2-0 advantage, before the Ramblers responded back to take an 8-7 lead. The teams flipped points until 9-9, when the Mastodons found holes in the Rambler defense and fired two kills to move ahead 11-9. Loyola answered back with a pair of kills of its own to tie set at 11-11. At 14-14, IPFW went on a 5-2 run to make the score 19-16. After Loyola scored a pair points, the Mastodons called a timeout, and then had to call a second timeout, as the Ramblers gained the lead at 22-21. A late Smalzer kill gave Loyola set point, and Daliege finished the match with a hard skill to earn the 25-23 final set win.
Bunting came through when needed all evening, adding 21 kills in 43 swings on Friday. Smalzer posted 12 kills, while Steve Thompson powered seven. Loyola managed a .279 hitting percentage in four sets of action.
The Ramblers will now return home for its biggest match of 2011 season, when they take on No. 3 Ohio State on Friday, April 1 at 7:00 CST. The April Fool's Day match will once again be held at the Alumni Gym.