Middle hitter Eric Daliege leads the Rambler team with a .489 hitting percentage on the season.
Middle hitter Eric Daliege leads the Rambler team with a .489 hitting percentage on the season.
Loyola To Face George Mason, St. Francis (Pa.) In Weekend Homestand

Jan. 25, 2012


No. 14 Loyola vs. George Mason
Friday, Jan. 27
7:00 p.m. CST
Gentile Arena

No. 14 Loyola vs. St. Francis (Pa.)
Saturday, Jan. 28
7:00 p.m. CST
Gentile Arena

Last Time Out..
Despite putting up 12.5 blocks against a heavy offense, the No. 14 Loyola men's volleyball team fell to No. 6 Penn State last Friday at Gentile Arena in three sets (25-21, 25-21, 26-24). Redshirt sophomore Joe Smalzer led the offense for the Ramblers with 10 kills. Senior outside hitter Mike Bunting added eight kills and team-high six digs. Middle hitter Eric Daliege paced the defense, posting six total blocks, while Smalzer and Danny Podkowa garnered five block assists each.

Season At A Glance...
After posting an overall record of 21-8 and finishing second in the conference (9-3) last season, the Loyola Ramblers are poised for another successful season and a strong run for the program’s first-ever NCAA appearance. Head coach Shane Davis returns all but one starter to the 2012 squad, including AVCA All-American Mike Bunting and 2011 MIVA Freshman of the Year Joseph Smalzer. Loyola also returns 11 additional letterwinners and welcomes eight newcomers, including Volleyball Magazine’s High School Player of the Year Cody Caldwell (Newport Beach, Calif.). Junior Matt Mirick will take the place of the graduated Mike Hutz at the starting setter position. A former High School All-American, Mirick competed in 44 sets last season, recording a career-high 24 assists against NJIT on March 19.

George Mason Scouting Report...
In his 14th season at George Mason, head coach Fred Chao returns five starters and 11 letterwinners to the 2012 roster including 2011 First Team All-EIVA member Mark Jones. The junior outside hitter anchors the offense after finishing second in the conference with 424 kills and seventh with 32 service aces last season. Tabbed to finish second in the Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association, the Patriots are out to a 3-2 start this season. After an impressive five-set push against No. 10 Ohio State, the Patriots moved to defeat MIVA competitors Ball State and IPFW last weekend to earn four points in the latest AVCA Top 15 Poll.

Saint Francis (Pa.) Scouting Report...

Saint Francis (Pa.) returns five starters and welcomes seven newcomers into the 2012 season. Senior opposite hitter and reigning EIVA Offensive Player of the Week Alex Kane anchors the team with 63 kills and is averaging 3.15 kills per set on the season. The Red Flash, led by vertan head coach Mike Rumbaugh, was picked to finish fourth in the EIVA preseason poll. After winning its first game of the season, St. Francis has slid into a four-game losing streak. The team will face Lewis on Firday night before visiting Loyola to close out the weekend.

Series History...

George Mason: Loyola leads the all-time series against George Mason 10-3 with Loyola winning the last five contests. The two teams last met on March 18 of last year when the Ramblers hosted the Patriots at Alumni Gym. The Maroon and Gold walked away with a 3-1 victory.

Saint Francis (Pa.): The Ramblers are 7-1 against the Red Flash, with the program’s only loss coming at the beginning of last season when St. Francis topped Loyola, 3-2, in Loretto, Pa.

Ranked Opponents...
The Loyola men’s volleyball started off its 2012 schedule facing some serious competition. Of the eight opponents the Ramblers have contested so far, six teams have been nationally-ranked as fixtures on the AVCA Division I-II Men’s Coaches Top 15 Poll, while five have cracked the Top 10 at some point this season. The Ramblers have battled current poll-toppers No. 1 BYU, No. 4 Stanford, No. 8 Penn State, No. 9 Cal State Northridge No. 11 Long Beach State, and No. 12 Pacific. Loyola only has three currently-ranked opponents left on the regular season schedule. The Ramblers will play conference foes No. 7 Lewis and No. 10 Ohio State, and will also get a second chance against No. 9 Cal State Northridge.

Set Me Up...
Junior Matt Mirick has taken the place of the graduated Mike Hutz at the starting setter position. A former High School All-American, Mirick competed in 44 sets last season, recording a career-high 24 assists against NJIT on March 19. Early in the season, Mirick more than doubled his personal-best with a 56 assist performance against BYU on Jan. 6.

Favored To Win...
Loyola University has been voted the preseason favorite in the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (MIVA). Loyola, which finished second in the conference last season, received 45 points in the poll, edging reigning National Champion Ohio State by three. The Ramblers also received four of the possible seven first-place votes with Ohio State notching the remaining three. Lewis received 39 points to be tabbed third while Ball State and Quincy tied with 21 points apiece for fourth place. IPFW and Grand Canyon ranked sixth and seventh, respectively to round out the voting.

Preseason Recognition...
Senior Mike Bunting and redshirt sophomore Joseph Smalzer have been tabbed to the 2012 MIVA Preseason All-Conference Team, it was announced by the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association.

Bunting (Wyomissing, Pa.) has collected multiple accolades during his tenure at Loyola, including an AVCA All-American second team selection and two Sports Imports/AVCA National Offensive Player of the Week awards in 2011. After totaling a team-high 417 kills and leading the MIVA with a 4.21 kill per set average, Bunting was named to the MIVA All-Conference First Team for the second year in a row.

After opting to redshirt his 2010 freshman campaign, Joseph Smalzer (Palos Heights, Ill.) made an immediate impact in 2011. He started in 27 matches, posting 345 kills and leading the conference with 47 service aces to earn the MIVA Freshman of the Year title. Smalzer was also named to the MIVA All-Conference First Team and MIVA All-Championship Team for his efforts during the season.

So far this season Bunting has played to 47 kills in 14 sets, while Smalzer leads the Ramblers with 98 kills and 18 service aces in 25 sets.

Fab 50 Freshmen...
It is safe to say that Loyola scored big when it comes to fresh talent this season. In addition to an already strong core of returning players, the Ramblers added eight newcomers to the 2012 roster (two transfers, a sophomore walk-on, and five true freshmen). All five freshmen, namely Ryan Baine, Cody Caldwell, Robert Chilcoat, Kurtis Mirick, and James Zaluski, were designated to Volleyball Magazine’s ‘Fab 50’ recruits from the 2011 senior class. Loyola was the only school to sign five ‘Fab 50’ players, claiming the second most of any school, trailing Pepperdine and USC who each welcomed seven to their respective squads.