Berzins Helps Ramblers Storm Past Tornado, 3-0
March 15, 2012
CHICAGO - Hitting for a .421 percentage, Dainis Berzins collected 11 kills while also tallying four blocks and five digs to help the Loyola men's volleyball team storm past King College tonight at Gentile Arena. The Ramblers (11-10, 3-3 MIVA) blew past the Tornado (7-15, 1-5 CC) in straight sets by scores of 26-24, 25-16, 25-17.
Led by the serve of Joseph Smalzer, Loyola jumped to an 8-3 lead in the first set. Cody Caldwell and Smalzer notched back-to-back kills to push the score to 14-10. Consecutive blocks from James Friddle allowed the Tornado to catch up and an error from Steve Thompson gave King its first lead of the set (23-24). A Smalzer kill tied the score again at 24 and, after an attack error by King's Stephen Brown, notched another to end the set, 26-24.
The Ramblers tallied seven straight points, including kills from Smalzer, Thompson, and Brendan Styler, to start the second set with a 13-5 advantage. At the 17-8 mark, King rattled off three in a row before Berzins stopped the momentum with a bullet from the outside. Berzins combined with Jeff Patton for a block, placing the game at set point (24-16).
Loyola opened the third set with another run paced by Smalzer and Matt Phillips. King answered with a run of its own to make a play for the comeback but was halted by another kill from Phillips. With the score at 17-13, Berzins put up a solo block against Justin Crane to spark a five-point slide. Berzins scored two of Loyola's final three points and set the Ramblers with a 24-16 score.
In addition to Berzins' performance, Smalzer had an outstanding night against the Tornado, leading the team with 18 kills, a .519 hitting percentage, and three service aces. Berzins and Smalzer tied setter Matt Mirick for the team-high five kills on defense.
"King is a strong program. They have some heavy-hitters and they came out to play tonight. We pushed through the first set and really got into a rhythm for the rest of the match, " said head coach Shane Davis. "We also had a lot of guys contributing and were able to work in some that haven't seen a lot of playing time yet this season."
The Ramblers move to host another Conference Carolinas competitor on Saturday afternoon as the team takes on the Limestone Saints at 4:00 p.m. Head Coach Shane Davis and his staff will recognize the six seniors on the Rambler squad in a short ceremony before the match.