April 23, 2014
CHICAGO - Thomas Jaeschke led a balanced attack with 13 kills and No. 1 Loyola advanced to Saturday night's MIVA championship match with a 3-0 (27-25, 25-19, 25-21) win over No. 14 IPFW tonight inside Gentile Arena. The Ramblers (26-1) equalled the school record with their 26th win of the season. IPFW's season comes to a close with a 21-7 record.
Loyola spotted its guests the first five points of the match and found itself down 8-2 after a hitting error. The home side still trailed 12-6 before finally settling into a rhythm. Owen McAndrews had a kill and an ace and Nick Olson had two kills and a block as the Ramblers rattled off eight of the next nine points to take a 14-13 lead. The teams battled back-and-forth the rest of the way, with neither team leading by two, and IPFW had the first crack at the set, taking a 24-23 lead on an Eddie Rivera kill. Another Olson kill kept LU alive and he promptly served up an ace to give the Ramblers a set point at 25-24. Another Rivera kill extended the set before kills from McAndrews and Jaeschke completed the Loyola comeback, 27-25. Olson was terrific in the set, pounding five kills in five swings to lead all players.
The teams were tied five times to get to 5-all in the second set before Joe Smalzer ripped a pair of kills and teamed with Olson for a block to highlight a 5-1 run that gave Loyola a 10-6 lead. Kills from Cody Caldwell, Jaeschke and Smalzer later helped the Ramblers build a seven-point bulge (17-10) just past the midway point of the set. Two Olson kills gave the Ramblers a 24-16 lead and, after three straight IPFW points, a Mastodon service error gave Loyola a 25-19 win and a 2-0 lead in the match. Smalzer was outstanding in the set with six kills on six swings to help Loyola to a .458 hitting percentage, as a team, in the set.
Caldwell blasted three kills early in the third set to help stake Loyola to a 7-1 lead but IPFW responded immediately, reeling off five straight points to get back to 7-6. A triple block from Jaeschke, Smalzer and McAndrews helped the Ramblers extend to a 15-10 advantage but the visitors refused to go away, closing within one (16-15) after a LU error. However, a Jaeschke kill put Smalzer on the service line and the recently crowned National Server of the Year promptly served up consecutive aces to help build a 20-15 lead. Loyola would, essentially, side-out the rest of the way, with Jaeschke providing two big kills before Caldwell's 10th kill of the night, and sixth of the set, closed out the match.
Loyola hit .386 as a team for the night and Peter Hutz did a marvelous job spreading the ball around. Jaeschke, the MIVA Player of the Year, led the way with 13 kills and he was joined in double figures by Caldwell (10 kills) and Smalzer (10 kills, three blocks). Olson was terrific in the middle, finishing with eight kills (8-1-10, .700) and five blocks.
The Ramblers advance to Saturday night's MIVA title match where they will face Lewis in a rematch of last year's championship. First serve from Gentile Arena is scheduled for 7 p.m.