Feb. 2, 2013
CHICAGO – Loyola University Chicago swept Springfield College on Saturday night, winning the 2013 Volleyball Hall of Fame Morgan Classic Championship while improving to 7-5 overall. Joseph Smalzer (Palos Heights, Ill.) paced the attack with 15 kills as Diego Rodriguez (Oak Park, Ill.) tallied 38 assists. The freshman duo of Trevor Novotny (Waukesha, Wis.) and Nicholas Olson (New Berlin, Wis.) led all players with three total blocks.
Smalzer quickly sent Loyola to the front, notching two consecutive kills and a service ace to give the Ramblers a 4-1 lead in the first set. Springfield worked its way back, tying the game four-all after scoring three unanswered points. Neither team was able to establish a firm hold on the game as a mere two points separated the lead until a kill by Novotny gave the Ramblers a 20-17 advantage. The Pride signaled a timeout, returning to play with back-to-back kills to force a Rambler timeout. A quick kill by Rodriguez and a service ace from Jeff Patton (Auburn, Calif.) allowed Loyola to retake the lead, 22-19. Springfield denied the Ramblers set point twice before a Smalzer kill ended the set, 27-25.
It was an intense second frame with five lead changes as the teams battled to take control. Springfield put the first point on the board, staying out front until a kill by Eric Daliege (Orland Park, Ill.) followed by a block from Novotny and Olson gave Loyola a 6-5 lead. The lead was short-lived, however, as service errors gave the Pride an 8-7 advantage. Daliege was not content to trail Springfield, blasting a kill and teaming up with Novotny at the net to send Loyola back out front, 13-12. Two points separated the teams for the remainder of the set with Novotny closing the game for the Ramblers, 25-23.
The Loyola freshmen fueled an early 10-6 lead in the final set as Novotny, Olson and Thomas Jaeschke (Wheaton, Ill.) all put away kills assisted by Rodriguez. Attempting to slow their momentum, Springfield signaled a timeout, but Loyola continued to control the attack. Smalzer posted consecutive kills to give the Ramblers their largest lead of the night, 21-13. Springfield had little left and with Loyola holding the Pride to a .045 hitting percentage, the Ramblers took the win, 25-17.
“It was a high-intensity match with a great atmosphere in Blake Arena,” said head coach Shane Davis. “It was a back-and-forth battle in the first two games, but we were able to grind them out. We put some pressure on Springfield in the final game, scoring a few extra points that gave us the win.”
Peter Jasaitis (Manhattan Beach, Calif.), Rodriguez and Smalzer were recognized for their efforts over the weekend, being named to the Volleyball Hall of Fame Morgan Classic All-Tournament Team. Smalzer was named Most Outstanding Player after collecting 26 kills, 11 digs and seven service aces.
Loyola returns home to begin conference play on Feb. 8 against Quincy. The Ramblers will host a five-game homestand before heading back on the road for a match against Ohio State on March 1.