April 13, 2013
Muncie, Ind. - Joe Smalzer had a team-high 15 kills but host Ball State was too much, knocking off Loyola 3-1 (25-23, 21-25, 27-25, 25-19) in a matchup of two of the hottest teams in the country tonight at Worthen Arena in Muncie, Ind. The Ramblers (19-9, 10-4 MIVA) still earn a share of the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association regular-season crown despite seeing their winning streak snapped at nine matches. Ball State improves to 20-5 (9-5) with its 12th consecutive win.
Early kills from Smalzer and Thomas Jaeschke helped Loyola open an early three-point lead and the Ramblers held a 10-7 lead after a Ball State service error. The home team battled back and pulled even at 11 before taking its first lead (13-12) later on a Greg Herceg kill. Loyola struggled to regain the momentum and eventually fell behind 22-17 before rallying late. With Ball State holding a handful of set points with a 24-19 lead, two Jaeschke kills highlighted a four-point run that pulled LU within a point, 24-23, before a kill from setter Graham McIlvaine gave the hosts the opening set.
Ball State used a 6-1 run early in the second set to turn a 5-3 deficit into a 9-6 lead as Loyola was forced to play from behind. Two Jaeschke kills helped the visitors draw even at 12 and a Jeff Patton service ace later gave the Ramblers a 16-15 lead. Loyola kept pushing, opening a 21-18 lead on an Eric Daliege kill, and the Ramblers earned their first set point after a block from Smalzer and Nick Olson made it a 24-20 game. After a service error, a Ball State block error sent the teams to the locker room tied at one set apiece.
The high level of play continued into the third set, as the teams were tied 10 different times to get to 11-all. Loyola was able to finally string a couple of points together, grabbing a 13-11 lead on an Olson kill and a Smalzer ace, but five consecutive Rambler errors later accounted for all the points in a Cardinals run that gave BSU an 18-16 lead. The Ramblers knotted the set at 19 on a Smalzer kill but three straight points put Ball State in the driver's seat with a 22-19 advantage. Kills from Smalzer and Cody Caldwell erased two set points and tied the set at 24 but the teams traded points to 26-25 before a Loyola error gave the Cardinals a 27-25 win and a 2-1 lead in the match.
A Smalzer kill gave Loyola an 8-5 lead early in the fourth set as it tried to extend the match but Ball State used an 11-4 run to take control with a 17-13 lead. The Ramblers were unable to string two points together until they rattled off three straight to get within five (23-18) but a service error and a hitting error accounted for Ball State's last two points as it was able to close out the match.
Loyola was plagued by errors much of the night as the Ramblers were guilty of 32 hitting errors and 18 service errors. Smalzer led the way for LU with 15 kills and three aces while Jaeschke added 14 kills and Caldwell reached double figures with 10 put-aways.
The Ramblers will enter the MIVA Tournament as the No. 2 seed and will host a quarterfinal game next Friday (April 19) at Gentile Arena. Check back with loyolaramblers.com for the most updated postseason information.