QUINCY, Ill. - Senior Mike
Hutz controlled the Rambler offense with 39 assists to go with
eight digs, as the No. 12 Loyola men's volleyball team ends the
2011 regular season with a 3-1 road win over Quincy on Saturday
afternoon at Pepsi Arena.
Loyola moves to 19-7 overall (9-3 MIVA) with the victory, while Quincy drops to 21-13 (3-9 MIVA) with the loss.
Offensively, Joseph Smalzer paced the attack with 15 kills. He also posted eight digs. For the second straight night, Steve Thompson put forth impressive evening on the box sheet, totaling 11 kills in 16 attempts. Domenic DeWaele stepped up for the Ramblers with 10 kills in four sets of action.
Needing to find momentum heading into the conference tournament, the Ramblers set their sights on coming away from Saturday's match with a victory. While the Hawks once again put up a tough test, this match from start to finish belonged to Loyola. For the second straight match, however, the visitors had to grind for points.
The Ramblers moved out to a 9-3 lead in the first set after picking up kills from Tim Frydendall, Dawaele and Smalzer. Loyola held the comfortable six-point lead, before Quincy closed the gap to one at 17-16. On the next point, though, Smalzer fired a kill to make the set 18-16. When it appeared the Ramblers were pulling away at 21-16, the Hawks went on a 5-1 run, making the frame 22-21. From here, Hutz stepped up with two accurate passes to Dainis Berzins and Thompson, as both ended with kills to give Loyola the set win, 25-21.
In the second frame, Loyola once again came out aggressive, creating their biggest lead of the match of six at 10-4. The Ramblers increased the advantage to seven at 17-10, as Dawaele added a pair of kills in the well-played stretch. As seen in both matches, Quincy made another run into Loyola's lead, fighting back to bring the score to three at 23-20. The three-point margin, however, was as close as the Hawks would come, as the home team provided the Ramblers a 25-20 second set win after posting three errors.
After the break, Quincy jumped out to leads of four, then seven, which ultimately led to a nine-point set win of 25-16 after posting a .522 hitting percentage in the frame, totaling 14 kills to only two errors. Loyola fell behind 17-10 and couldn't recover, while Quincy offered its second-best frame performance of the weekend.
In the fourth and would be final set, Loyola returned to form and found consistent production from its middle, when Danny Podkowa posted a kill, as did Thompson early on. The middle output kept the Ramblers in the match, as the teams traded points the majority of the set up until 11-11. After Quincy pulled in front 13-11, Loyola launched a spike fest, as Smalzer, Thompson and Dawaele marked a 5-0 run to take the lead at 16-13. Holding the advantage all the way up to 23-22, the Ramblers found Smalzer on the two of the three final plays to close out the framet 25-22 and earn the win.
Loyola will now return to Alumni Gym to prepare for Grand Canyon in the first round of the MIVA Tournament on April 23 at 7:00 p.m. With an 8-3 conference record, the Ramblers clinched the number two seed for the second straight season.