No. 14 Ramblers Cage the Tigers in Five-Set Showdown

March 18, 2013

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CHICAGO – The No. 14 Loyola University Chicago men’s volleyball team defeated Princeton on Monday night, outlasting the Tigers, 3-2 (25-27, 25-22, 27-29, 25-16, 15-9). It was a team effort for the Ramblers who hit .310 on the night while collecting a season-high 15 total blocks. Eric Daliege (Orland Park, Ill.) led the floor with nine total blocks while Cody Caldwell (Newport Beach, Calif.), Thomas Jaeschke (Wheaton, Ill.) and Joseph Smalzer (Palos Heights, Ill.) each logged double-digit kills.

Loyola got off to a slow start in the first set, giving up five unanswered points to the Tigers to trail 7-2. Jaeschke blasted a kill and teamed up with Daliege at the net to bring the Ramblers within three, 8-5. Princeton slowly pulled away with strong play by its outside hitters, but multiple kills by Jaeschke and Caldwell kept Loyola in the game. A solo block from Daliege had the Ramblers trailing 17-16, jump-starting a 6-1 run late in the game. Consecutive errors by the Tigers followed by back-to-back kills from Jaeschke denied Princeton the match twice, but the Tigers went on to take the first frame, 27-25.

The start of the second set was a back-and-forth battle between the teams with Princeton taking a slim two-point advantage over the Ramblers. A Smalzer kill followed by a block from Smalzer, Caldwell and Nicholas Olson (New Berlin, Wis.) tied the game at nine, but the Tigers went on to score four consecutive points to lead 14-9. Loyola answered with its largest run of the night, as Smalzer notched two aces and consecutive kills to fuel a 7-0 run and put the Ramblers out front for the first time, 16-14. The game remained neck-and-neck, but a kill by Caldwell would close out the set for the Ramblers, 25-22.

The Ramblers jumped to a 4-1 lead in the third set, behind a block from Daliege and Caldwell and a Smalzer kill. The Tigers answered with five unanswered points to take the lead, forcing a Loyola timeout as it trailed, 7-6. The teams would go on to tie the game six times before a 4-1 run by Princeton put the team ahead 16-13. The Ramblers slowly worked their way back, even as the Tigers were first to set point, 24-20. A trio of kills from Loyola and a Caldwell ace denied Princeton the game with the Ramblers tying it at 24-all. The teams swapped the lead twice more, denying each other the win before the Tigers took the third frame, 29-27.

Bent on extending the game to five sets, Loyola made a statement in the fourth frame, winning the battle at the net and posting six team blocks to hold the Tigers to a -.100 hitting percentage. The Ramblers opened the set, establishing a 6-3 lead fueled by a block from Caldwell, Olson and Peter Hutz (Whitefish Bay, Wis.). Princeton remained within two points of Loyola until a 9-1 run by the Ramblers led by a trio of blocks from Daliege extended the team’s 22-14 advantage. A Daliege kill and consecutive attack errors by the Tigers ended the set, 25-16.

It all came down to the fifth set as the teams continued to battle closely for the lead. Princeton opened the final set taking a 4-2 advantage.  The Ramblers would tie the game three times before jumping to an 8-7 lead behind kills from Smalzer and Daliege. Riding its momentum, Loyola continued to pull away, going on a 5-0 run with consecutive blocks from Daliege and Caldwell to put the Ramblers ahead, 12-7. Trevor Novotny (Waukesha, Wis.) blasted a service ace followed by a kill from Caldwell to give Loyola the 15-9 win as the team improved to 13-8 overall on the season.

The Ramblers return to conference play this weekend, traveling to Quincy on Friday, March 22, and Lindenwood on Saturday, March 23. Both matches are set for 7 p.m.