CHICAGO - No. 14 Loyola dropped its second match of the weekend, falling in straight sets (18-25, 9-25, 19-25) to No. 8 Ohio State tonight at Gentile Arena. The Ramblers slide to 1-3 in conference play (8-8 overall), while the Buckeyes pick up their third MIVA win to improve to 3-1 in the conference (12-5 overall).
Loyola held the score tight to begin the match, taking a 7-4 lead off of a kill from Cody Caldwell. Ohio State worked its way back to tie the game at eight and eventually take over the lead (10-8). At a 10-10 tie score, the two teams traded points until ball handling errors and hard attacks set the game in favor of the Buckeyes. Paced by Shawn Sangrey, OSU scored four of the last seven points to win the first set.
The Buckeyes dominated the second set, working their way to the finish with numerous multi-point runs. Early errors had the Ramblers trailing 0-5 at the start. The Buckeyes tallied four straight kills to extend their lead to 4-15. Kills from Caldwell, Dainis Berzins, and Kyle Nail brought up the Rambler total but it wasn't enough as Sangrey put away another to give the exclamation point on the set.
The third set remained tight to a 7-7 tie before Ohio State took over once again and ran away with a strong lead. At the 10-17 mark, Eric Daliege and Mike Bunting sandwiched a pair of kills around one from OSU to make it 12-18. Caldwell stepped up to notch three successive kills and tighten the score to 18-22 and force a Buckeye timeout. Out of the break, Ohio State played for a kill-block-kill combination to close out the set and sweep the match.
"We have to pass first and we were not doing that well tonight. If you don't pass well that makes the game predictable," said Assistant Coach Mark Hulse. "However, I think tonight, more than ever, the guys looked like they were playing together. They pulled together to work through the adversity."
Bunting and Caldwell each finished with eight kills for the Rambler attack, with Caldwell also notching a team-high six digs in the match. Joseph Smalzer and Daliege combined for a total of 12 kills to round out the team's top hitters. Ohio State triggered a .455 hitting percentage on the night to outshine Loyola's .190 percentage. The Buckeyes also held the 13.0-8.5 edge in team blocks. Mik Berzins hit for an astonishing .611 average with 11 kills.
The Ramblers will stay home in Chicago for one more week, playing back-to-back contests against visiting Quincy on March 2 and March 3. Both games will take place at 7:00 p.m. CST.