CHICAGO - The Loyola men's volleyball team (17-11, 7-4 MIVA) turned in its best performance of the season, blasting 11 service aces and limiting the Lions to a meager .087 hitting percentage, to secure the sweep (25-15, 25-20, 25-11) against Lindenwood (17-13) tonight in Gentile Arena.
Loyola ran out to an early 9-4 lead off of a kill from Dainis Berzins. At the 15-9 mark, Mike Bunting registered a pair of kills to push the Rambler lead to 17-9. Berzins denied Lion Jack Mitchell at the net, notching a solo block to give Loyola a double-digit lead (21-11). A kill from Scott Siwicki fought off the first set point but Bunting followed with a kill to end the set 25-15.
The second set proved to be a much closer game. Neither team was able to establish a solid lead until midway through the set when the Ramblers broke away from an 11-11 tie. Smalzer notched a kill and punched two aces in a row to put Loyola at a 14-11 advantage. A block from Lindenwood's Mitchell and Scott Siwicki brought the Lions within one at 14-13 but that is as close as they would get as the Ramblers jumped into two three-point runs to take a commanding 20-15 lead. Another from Smalzer placed the game at set point and a Berzins kill finished it off, 25-20.
With the score tied at three in the third and final set, Berzins launched a bullet and the Ramblers never looked back. Loyola extended its lead to six points off of a kill from Bunting (10-4) and again to seven after a three-point run paced by the serve of Smalzer At the 20-9 mark, the Lions gained a point off of a service ace from Michael Adams but Loyola pulled out two more runs to end the game at an early 25-11 decision.
Berzins played spectacular for the Ramblers, leading the team with 13 kills, hitting a .632 (13-1-19) rate of success, and posting two service aces and three blocks. Bunting added 11 kills, one ace, and four digs. Smalzer turned in another personal-best performance, tying a career-high of six service aces, while notching nine kills and seven digs. As a team, the Ramblers triggered a .342 hitting percentage.
The Ramblers close out the 2012 regular season with a road match in Muncie, Ind. Loyola will face IPFW on Saturday, April 14 beginning at 6:00 p.m. CST.