FAIRFAX, Va. - The No. 14 Loyola men's volleyball team, poised with a balanced attack, soared to a win over George Mason tonight at the Recreation and Athletic Complex in Fairfax, Va. The Ramblers (7-6, 1-1 MIVA) beat the Patriots (4-7, 1-1 EIVA) for the second time this season by scores of 25-21, 25-23, and 25-23.
George Mason jumped to a 4-7 lead to start the match but a kill by Cody Caldwell and three consecutive hitting errors from the Patriots allowed the Ramblers to climb back to take the 8-7 lead. Loyola extended its lead to 17-12 with kills from Joseph Smalzer and Mike Bunting and a combined block from Bunting and Eric Daliege. Another kill from Smalzer made it set point at 24-19, but GMU was able to fend off two points before an attack error ended the set.
In the second set, the two teams traded points to an 11-11 tie before Loyola was able to break away and establish a lead. Another kill from Smalzer and more errors on behalf of the Patriots set the score at 15-11. Bunting sandwiched a pair of kills around one from GMU's leading attacker, Michael Kvidahl to push the score to 19-15. A Daliege kill put the score at 24-21 and the set again ended on an attack error from the home team.
Loyola opened the third set with a 5-3 lead paced by kills from Caldwell, Bunting, and Torey Darin. Strong efforts from Bunting and Kyle Nail helped keep the Ramblers in the game through the middle of the set. Loyola built a three-point lead going into the final points of the match. Kills from George Mason's Mark Jones and Hunter Stevens tightened the gap to 23-22 before Bunting put away the set and the match with a kill off of a free ball.
Bunting played for a .367 hitting percentage on the night with a game-high 14 kills. Caldwell added 11 kills on the night and also tallied 11 digs to lead the defense. Loyola finished with a 44 to 3- advantage in kills after holding the Patriots to a .080 hitting percentage.
Loyola finishes its trip to the east coast tomorrow when it moves to play NJIT in Newark, N.J. The match is set to begin at 6:00 p.m. CST.