NEWARK, N.J. - Mike Bunting closed out an impressive weekend with a 19-kill performance as the No. 14 Loyola men's volleyball team (8-6, 1-1 MIVA) toppled over NJIT (5-7, 1-2 EIVA) tonight at the Estelle and Zoom Fleisher Athletic Center in Newark, N.J. The Ramblers beat the Highlanders, 3-1, by scores of 25-15, 26-28, 25-17, and 25-19.
With the score tied 6-6 in the first set, Matt Mirick and Eric Daliege combined for a block to trigger a four-point run and set the Ramblers ahead 9-6. NJIT battled back with consecutive kills from Doug Battersby and Adam Gustafson to bring the score close at 11-9. A kill from Kevin Van Oss put the Highlanders within one at 13-12, but that is as close as they would come as the Ramblers sprung to a 12-3 run to close out the set, 25-15.
The Highlanders rebounded well in the second set, to leave the Ramblers playing catch-up from a 5-9 score. Loyola slowly worked to crawl back and found itself within one (15-16) off of a kill by Steve Thompson. The two teams traded points through the twenties. Cody Caldwell tied the score again at 26 but TJ Jurko answered with consecutive kills to take the set.
Again, the teams battled through the first points for control, with neither squad establishing more than a two-point lead until two offensive errors gave the Ramblers at 16-13. Kills from Nail, Bunting, and Caldwell stretched the lead to 23-16. Jurko added one more for the Highlanders before Berzins snuffed the final point.
Caldwell showed up big in the final set, collecting two repeated service aces, to walk the Ramblers to a 6-1 start. A Thompson kill put Loyola up by seven (11-4) before NJIT worked for a three-point run with help at the net from Van Oss and Aurel Griesshammer. Setting the score at 20-12, Thompson and Bunting tallied back-to-back kills and Thompson followed by assisting Mirick with a block. The Highlanders avoided the first set point with a kill from Matthew Lui before committing an attack error to close out the set.
In addition to posting 19 kill on the night, Bunting hit an imposing .406 percentage. Berzins tallied 11 kills while Caldwell tabbed eight to help the Rambler attack. Tommy Becker found himself among the line of defense and gathered 13 digs against the Highlanders.
The Loyola Ramblers will return to MIVA conference play next weekend when they host IPFW and 2011 National Champion Ohio State for Friday/Saturday contests.