Jan. 25, 2013
CHICAGO – After coming from behind and holding the Patriots to a .091 hitting percentage in set two, the Ramblers fell to George Mason in their second meeting this season, 3-1 (27-29, 25-18, 22-25, 25-27). Joseph Smalzer (Palos Heights, Ill.) posted a career-high 28 kills to lead all players as Diego Rodriguez (Oak Park, Ill.) notched a game-high 49 assists.
It was a close start to the night with George Mason giving up an early 2-0 lead. The Ramblers took advantage of a Patriot error followed by a kill from Eric Daliege (Orland Park, Ill.) to tie the game two-all. The Patriots answered with two points, building a consistent lead until late in the match. With Loyola trailing 14-12, a quick kill by Rodriguez generated momentum for the team, tying the set at 14 apiece. The Patriots took their first timeout of the night, briefly halting Loyola’s run, but a kill by Nicholas Olson (New Berlin, Wis.) helped the Ramblers take the lead, 17-15. The teams would swap the lead twice before Smalzer put away a kill to give Loyola its first match point. George Mason answered with a kill, but Olson and Smalzer teamed up for a block to give the Ramblers a 25-24 advantage. In the end, consecutive kills by George Mason allowed the Patriots to take the first set 29-27.
The Ramblers had a slow start in the second frame, trailing George Mason 7-6 before Trevor Novotny (Waukesha, Wis.) blasted a kill to tie the game. Loyola remained in control, creating a 5-1 run closed by a kill from Daliege to keep the Ramblers out front, 12-8. The freshmen trio of Novotny, Rodriguez and Olson teamed up at the net to begin another run, keeping Loyola in control of the game as George Mason signaled a timeout, trailing 18-12. Holding the Patriots to a .091 hitting percentage, Loyola took the second set, 25-18, sealed by a Daliege kill.
Smalzer paced the attack with nine kills in the third set, working to keep Loyola in the game as George Mason started strong, establishing a four-point lead. Olson posted back-to-back blocks, teaming up with Dainis Berzins (Brinklow, Md.) to bring Loyola within reach of the Patriots, 18-17. A kill by Thomas Jaeschke (Wheaton, Ill.) followed by a George Mason error tied it 19-all. George Mason thwarted Loyola’s attempts at a comeback and a final kill by the Patriots gave them the 2-1 advantage.
In the final set, Rodriguez notched a kill to put Loyola out front, 1-0. Four unanswered points by the Patriots led to a Rambler timeout with Loyola trailing, 4-1. Consecutive kills by Jaeschke kept Loyola within one, but George Mason stayed consistent on the attack, opening its lead, 19-15. Smalzer led a late charge, initiating a 7-0 run capped by Olson’s first-career service ace. The score remained close for the remainder of the game as the teams battled for the lead with the Patriots first to set point. Loyola fought back, but a Patriot block ended the night, 27-25.
The Ramblers continue their homestand tomorrow night, playing NJIT at 7 p.m. The Highlanders dropped to 1-3 on the season after suffering a 3-0 loss to Lewis (25-16, 25-14, 25-23) on Friday night.