CHICAGO – The No. 11 Loyola men’s volleyball team bounced back to win set two after a slow start, but it was all No. 7 Ohio State the rest of the way, as the Buckeyes used a balanced offensive attack to take the final two sets and the match, 3-1 on Friday evening at Alumni Gym in Chicago.
Loyola falls for the first time since March 11 and moves to 17-6 (7-2) on the season. Ohio State sweeps the season series with the win, improving to 18-4 (11-0) in the process. The Buckeyes have now won the last four meetings over the Ramblers.
The visiting Buckeyes made their presence known early in first set after jumping out to an 8-2 lead. A Mike Bunting and Eric Daliege combined block, followed by a Daliege kill stopped the Ohio State run with the score at 15-12. The teams traded points until 22-18, when the Buckeyes closed with two more kills and an attack error by Bunting to win the first frame, 25-20.
In the second set, Loyola regained the momentum and took an early 7-6 advantage. Buckeye John Klanec responded a point later with a kill to tie the frame at 8-8. The teams battled back and forth late into the frame, with Bunting and Daliege leading Loyola with three and two kills apiece in the series. Tied at 25-25, the Ramblers broke through when the Buckeyes managed a pair of errors to provide Loyola the crucial set win in extra points, 27-25.
After intermission, the Buckeyes stepped up their powerful attack, finding holes in the Loyola defense on many occasions in the third set. Even though Loyola moved out to a 10-5 advantage, Ohio State answered with a string of kills to eventually take the lead at 13-12. On the following point, Joseph Smalzer notched a kill to once again tie up the contest and put the Ramblers back into the set. Trading points until 22-22, the Buckeyes finished the frame strong after a service ace from Shawn Sangrey and a forced error by Bunting to take set, 25-22.
In the final frame, the Buckeyes turned up the intensity and never looked back, gaining leads of 13-9, then increasing the margin to 21-16 a short time later, thanks to a handful of kills from Klanec and Sangrey. Despite a late Rambler comeback effort, with Steve Thompson earning a kill, Ohio State found another point from Klanec and fed off two Loyola errors, to close out the set and match, 25-20.
Bunting managed 13 kills and seven digs to lead the Ramblers. Daliege finished the night with nine kills, while Dainis Berzins added seven. Klanec fired a game-high 19 kills in the win.
Loyola will play its final ever regular season home match at Alumni Gym on April 8 against Ball State. First serve is set for 7:00 p.m. CDT.