CHICAGO - Despite a strong comeback to win the third and fourth sets, the No. 15 Loyola men's volleyball team fell in five (23-25, 24-26, 25-18, 25-20, 13-15) to California Baptist tonight at Van Dyne Gym in Riverside, Calif. With the loss, the Ramblers slide to 10-9 on the season. The Lancers take the win to improve to 8-13 overall.
The two teams stayed tight throughout the first two sets, trading points into the twenties. At the 21-21 mark, the Lancers hit a stride with a kill from Daniel Freitas and two forced attack errors by the Ramblers for a 24-21 score. Loyola fought off two set points with a kill from Cody Caldwell and a solo block by Mike Bunting before Kristopher Johnson ended the match, 25-23.
The second set started much like the first with neither team establishing a solid lead until Cal Baptist took a 20-17 jump off of another kill from Freitas. The Ramblers again battled to extend the game and were successful in tying the score at 24 after a four-point run, paced by Bunting, Caldwell, and Dainis Berzins. Lancers Johnson and Connor Metcalfe combined for a block and Aaron McCalmont delivered the kill to close the set, 26-24.
Loyola showed a different team in the next two sets, committing only four errors and holding the Lancers to a combined .150 hitting percentage. In the third set, the Maroon and Gold ran away from a 15-14 score and notched the next seven points with the help of Kyle Nail and Bunting. A Berzins kill put the score at 23-16 and an attack error from Cal Baptist ended the game.
The Ramblers held a steady lead throughout the fourth set. A service ace from Joseph Smalzer followed by a kill from Caldwell gave the Ramblers a 10-5 edge. Nail and Caldwell combined for a block to extend the lead at 19-13. Cal Baptist fought back to a four-point deficit with three consecutive kills but Caldwell closed the match, 25-20, with a bullet from the outside.
In the fifth and final set, the Ramblers worked from a 10-12 shortfall to tie at 12. After a rare error from Bunting at the net, Berzins notched the kill to set the score at 13-14. Berzins tried again to keep the game alive but was met with a block from Garet Kreutziger and McCalmont to end the match.
Hitting for a .400 percentage, Bunting led the Ramblers with 25 total kills on the night. Caldwell added 17 kills to the team offensive, while Peter Jasaitis tabbed 12 digs and Nail collected a career-high five blocks to pace Loyola on the defensive.
Loyola stays in California in a few more days before a grudge match against Cal State Northridge on Friday night. The Ramblers will face the Matadors at 9:00 p.m. CST.