Jan. 28, 2012
CHICAGO - Opposite hitter Joseph Smalzer totaled 12 kills and setter Matt Mirick collected 31 assists as the No. 14 Loyola men's volleyball team swept St. Francis (Pa.) this evening, 3-0 (25-22, 25-22, 25-16) at Gentile Arena. The Ramblers move to 5-5 on the season, while the Red Flash take their sixth-straight loss to fall 1-6.
The first set saw four lead changes and nine tie scores. The two teams traded points until a few attack errors by the Ramblers and a steady attack from SFU's Kyle Beatty and John Skarupa allowed the Red Flash to take an 11-9 lead. Down 14-18, Loyola worked, using kills by Cody Caldwell, Mike Bunting, and Eric Daliege, and a service ace by Jeff Patton, to inch back into the lead at 21-20. After St. Francis called a timeout, Caldwell ended the first, 25-22, with a kill.
St. Francis jumped to a 4-1 lead in the second after combined blocks from Alex Kane, Skarupa, and Mark Kochan, temporarily shut down Bunting's momentum. A kill by Logan Patterson extended the lead to four and triggered a Loyola timeout. At the 14-18 mark, Loyola sailed through a five-point run that was anchored by Daliege at the net. SFU fought off one set point before Nail answered with a kill to end the set, 25-22.
As a team, Loyola triggered a .455 hitting percentage in the final set. With the score tied at 10, a pair of kills from Daliege and Caldwell gave the Ramblers back the edge and sparked a five-point run, paced by two service aces from Caldwell to bring the score to 16-11. Bunting hammered back-to-back kills to lengthen the lead to 20-13. A huge block at the net by Smalzer and Daliege placed the game at 24-16 with an attack error on SFU's Beatty ending the match.
"We had a really good week in practice. After Penn State we got back in the gym and worked hard to find the right lineup and see what was going to work best for us," said head coach Shane Davis. "Nail was great for us out there. He really stepped up to take some big plays in the middle."
Kyle Nail continued his weekend hot streak, hitting a .417 percentage with seven kills. Smalzer once again lead the Rambler offense with 12 kills while Peter Jasaitis gathered six digs for the defense. Loyola's serve was another bright spot in the match, as the team garnered nine service aces over the Red Flash defense.
Loyola begins conference play on Feb. 2 when the team travels to Muncie, Ind. for a 6:30 p.m. match-up against Ball State.