April 25, 2012
ROMEOVILLE, Ill. - The No. 13 Loyola men's volleyball team fell to No. 7 Lewis in three sets tonight (17-25, 22-25, 21-25). The Flyers advance to the MIVA Championship match on Saturday, while the Ramblers' season ends at 19-12 overall.
Lewis squeaked to a 7-4 start in the first. Mike Bunting rallied to bring the team within two but the comeback stopped there as the Ramblers gave up five points on missed service attempts. At the 19-14 mark, the Flyers scored consecutive kills to extend their lead. Loyola crawled back to a 24-17 score with points from Eric Daliege and Dainis Berzins before Lewis' Geoff Powell ended the match 25-17.
Bunting tallied four of the team first six points to push the Ramblers out to a 6-3 in the second set, but the Flyers battled back to tie the score at six. The two teams traded points until Lewis scored four straight the final stretch to push to 23-20. A Berzins kill delayed the end, bringing the Ramblers to 24-22, before Powell finished it again.
Loyola worked to an 8-5 lead in the third after Berzins earned a duo of marks and Danny Podkowa and Joseph Smalzer combined for a block. Lewis fought back to a 9-9 tie with heavy defense at the net. Smalzer came up with a solo block to take back the lead 10-9. but another string of errors allowed Lewis to open up to a 15-13 edge and gain control. Bunting sandwiched a pair of kills around that of Powell to set the score at 22-18. A heater from Jay Petty made it game point and a heartbreaking attack error by the Ramblers gave the Flyers the sweep.
"We came prepared and ready to play but Lewis played the best I have ever seen them play, in person or on film. We just couldn't get around them," said head coach Shane Davis after the match. "If they play Ohio State the way they played tonight, we will definitely see them in the Final Four."
In his final match wearing Maroon and Gold, Bunting led the Ramblers on offense with 17 kills finishing his career fourth among Loyola's leaderboard with 1,349 kills in the past four years. Berzins hit a .400 rate of success with 11 kills and tied Peter Jasaitis for a team-high six digs. The Flyers outblocked the Ramblers five to four and collectively hit an astonishing .449 percentage on the night.
"Our seniors did a great job leading tonight and I want to thank them for all of the hard work they have done for the past four years," Davis added. "We also had a great crowd of fans out tonight which was a nice way to end the year."