CHICAGO - Redshirt sophomore Joseph Smalzer had 18 kills while junior Eric Daliege hit .684 percentage (13-0-18) to lead the Ramblers to a 3-1 (25-19, 22-25, 25-16, 25-22) victory over Carthage in the 2012 home opener at Gentile Arena tonight.
After a slow start in the first set, trailing 1-5, Loyola found its footing and rattled off a 7-3 run to catch up and tie the match at eight. Paced by kills from senior Mike Bunting, a service ace and a kill from freshman Cody Caldwell, and a few hitting and service errors from the Red Men, the Ramblers worked toward a five-point chain to take the lead at 13-8. Bunting extended the lead to 17-11 with a kill and again to position the score at 24-16. Carthage fended off four set points before middle hitter Eric Daliege hammered a kill for the finish.
The Red Men block proved a challenge for the Ramblers in the first two sets, edging the statistic 10-1. With the score tied at 12 in the second, Carthage ripped off to a five-point run to take its first lead of the match a 12-17. With help from kills by Joseph Smalzer and Matt Mirick, Loyola inched its way to close the gap, but a service error by Smalzer ended the set, 22-25.
Loyola adjusted its play in the third set to trigger a .545 hitting percentage as a team and raced out to a 10-3 lead on a Cody Caldwell kill. Consecutive kills from Smalzer placed the game at a 25-16 set point and Daliege finished it off with one of his own.
Daliege continued to play big in the fourth and final frame, putting away kills to set the score at 6-4 and extend the led to 14-11. Back-to-back Red Men attacks tied the score at 16. The teams traded serves for the next four points, tying again at 18. A Smalzer kill gave the Ramblers back the lead (19-18) and put the home team ahead by three (23-20). Carthage closed the gap to 24-21, piloted by Jim Schultz and Randy Hansen. After a timeout, Caldwell hit one off the block to close out the game.
Mirick collected a career-high 47 assists on the match while Caldwell also set a career-best 12 digs. Matt Yanz and Randy Hansen led for the Red Men with 11 kills apiece.
The Ramblers move to host No. 6 Penn State this Friday, Jan. 20 at 7:00 p.m. CST as part of Loyola's Spirit Week 2012.