April 24, 2013
CHICAGO - Joe Smalzer racked up 16 kills, eight digs and five blocks to lead No. 12 Loyola to a 3-1 (25-16, 25-18, 18-25, 25-21) win over No. 9 Ball State tonight in the semifinals of the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (MIVA) Tournament tonight at Gentile Arena. The Ramblers (21-9) advance to Saturday's championship match where they will take on top-seeded Lewis. Ball State's season ends with a 21-6 record.
Loyola's offense was clicking in the opening set as the Ramblers were able to take the lead early and play from in front. Kills from Smalzer and Nick Olson helped the Ramblers open a 13-10 lead and the margin grew to four (17-13) on a Ball State error. Smalzer capped a three-point run to put LU up by six and kills from Olson and Thomas Jaeschke wrapped up an opening-set, 25-16 win. Loyola hit a sizzling .500 (15-4-22) in the opening frame while holding the Ball State offense to just six kills and a .045 percentage (6-5-22).
Jaeschke opened the second set with consecutive aces as the Ramblers were able to maintain their high level. A block from Jaeschke and Eric Daliege followed a Peter Hutz solo stuff to help Loyola push out to a 9-6 lead but the visitors were able to recover, reeling off six of the next seven points to take a 12-10 lead, prompting a Rambler timeout. Kills from Olson and Cody Caldwell out of the timeout helped the Ramblers regain the lead and another block later from Daliege and Smalzer capped a big 4-0 run that gave LU a 21-16 advantage. Loyola was essentially able to side-out from there, with Jaeschke closing out a 25-18 win that sent Loyola to the locker room with a 2-0 lead.
Ball State came out energized in the third set, racing out to a 5-1 lead on the heels of back-to-back Greg Herceg aces. Loyola slowly began to chip away, clawing within a point (9-8) on a Hutz ace, but a pair of Jamion Hartley kills helped the Cardinals edge out to a 15-10 lead midway through the frame. Trailing 19-12, Loyola made another run on the serve of Jeff Patton, as the senior served up a pair of aces as part of a 4-0 run that made it a 19-16 game. However, Ball State responded by scoing the next three to regain the momentum and the Cardinals stayed alive with a 25-18 victory. After committing just eight hitting errors in the first two sets combined, Loyola was guilty of 10 miscues in the third set.
Loyola took control of the fourth set early, riding eight straight points on the serve of Daliege to take a 9-1 lead. The Ramblers were able to consistently side-out through the middle stages of the set and a Smalzer ace gave LU a commanding 18-8 advantage. A Daliege kill made it 21-11 and the Ramblers still led 23-14 after a Smalzer kill before Ball State made a frantic comeback, using four blocks and two other Loyola hitting errors to pull within two, 23-21. A Cardinal error finally ended the spurt and Smalzer and Olson teamed up for a block on LU's first match point to send the Ramblers to the finals.
The Ramblers were extremely efficient through the first two sets, hitting .413 before intermission before being held to a -.028 percentage after the break. Despite the erratic hitting late, Loyola's defense was strong throughout, racking up 40 digs and tallying 11 blocks to hold the Ball State offense to a .103 efficiency for the match.
Aside from Smalzer's 16 kills, Loyola spread the ball around well. Caldwell finished with nine kills and 10 digs, Jaeschke added eight kills and nine digs while Olson (seven kills, seven blocks) and Daliege (six kills, three blocks) were effective in the middle. Hutz did a solid job running the show, handing out 42 assists to go with seven digs and three blocks. Hartley led Ball State with 11 kills but also had 11 errors and hit .000 for the match.
Loyola looks for its first-ever MIVA Tournament title on Saturday when it takes on Lewis. First serve is set for 7 p.m. in Romeoville.