Ramblers Fall to No. 7 Ohio State in Five-Set Thriller

Loyola earned 11 team blocks

Loyola earned 11 team blocks

March 1, 2013

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CHICAGO – Loyola University Chicago made a thrilling come-from-behind rally taking No. 7 Ohio State into a fifth set before falling to the Buckeyes, 3-2 (16-25, 20-25, 25-23, 25-20, 15-13). The Ramblers outblocked their opponent and were led by Eric Daliege (Orland Park, Ill.) who managed six total blocks. Thomas Jaeschke (Wheaton, Ill.) and Joseph Smalzer (Palos Heights, Ill.) paced the attack with 19 kills apiece while Peter Hutz (Whitefish Bay, Wis.) tallied 54 assists. 

The teams opened the match neck-and-neck, tying the game five times before Ohio State began to pull away, 10-8. A kill by Jaeschke brought the Ramblers within one before consecutive kills by the Buckeyes forced a Loyola timeout as Ohio State established a 14-11 lead. Jaeschke worked to get his team back into it, blasting back-to-back kills as Loyola continued to trail 21-14. Ohio State closed out the set with a final kill to take the 25-16 win. 

The Buckeyes jumped to an early lead in the second frame, benefiting off a strong attack. Kills by Smalzer and Nicholas Olson (New Berlin, Wis.) allowed the Ramblers to come within two, but the Buckeyes answered with consecutive kills forcing a Rambler timeout as the team trailed, 10-6. Olson briefly halted Ohio State’s momentum, teaming up for two blocks to push the Ramblers to a two-point deficit, 15-13. It was as close as Loyola would get as Ohio State slowly built its lead, taking the set, 25-20. 

“We came into the match with a game plan and we weren’t executing that game plan in the first two sets,” said head coach Shane Davis. “After game two we walked into the locker room and we talked about what we came in here hoping to accomplish. The team went back out and executed our original game plan, working really hard to get back into it.” 

Olson and Smalzer opened the third game with a block to give Loyola the first point. A 3-0 run by the Ramblers backed by a service ace from Dainis Berzins (Brinklow, Md.) and a block by Jaeschke and Daliege allowed the team to establish a 14-11 lead, forcing a Buckeye timeout. Ohio State went on to score three unanswered points of its own before Smalzer rattled off two kills and an ace to put Loyola up 21-19. Ohio State regrouped and the team tied the game 23-all before Jaeschke put away two kills to give Loyola the 25-23 win. 

Riding the momentum of the previous set, Loyola had its best game yet, hitting .562 in the fourth frame as Hutz continued to connect with his pin hitters. The Ramblers scored four unanswered points with kills by Berzins, Jaeschke and Smalzer catapulting Loyola to a 9-4 lead. A string of kills by Jaeschke reinforced a 19-13 lead for the Ramblers as the Buckeyes called a second timeout. A final Jaeschke kill split the match and Loyola won the set, 25-20. 

Loyola scored the first three points of the fifth set, immediately sending Ohio State into a timeout. The Buckeyes answered with three points to tie the match three-all as the teams went on to swap the lead eight times. With Ohio State up 10-7, a kill by Jaeschke followed by a block from Olson and a Buckeye error tied the set once again as neither team was able to establish control. The Buckeyes were first to set point with a block sealing their 3-2 win over Loyola.

“We’re taking the right steps and starting to pull everything together at this point in the season,” said Davis. “We’ve been able to figure out who can play what position and the combinations that work best. We’re excited to see what happens moving forward.”

Loyola is now 10-8 overall and 3-3 in conference play. The Ramblers take the week off before traveling to No. 10 Lewis on Wednesday, March 13.