Loyola Moves To Grudge Match Against Cal State Northridge

loycMUSTANGS.COM This time around, the Ramblers will be playing with their top hitter Mike Bunting who sat out the last meeting against the Matadors due to injury.
loycMUSTANGS.COM
This time around, the Ramblers will be playing with their top hitter Mike Bunting who sat out the last meeting against the Matadors due to injury.
loycMUSTANGS.COM

March 8, 2012

CHICAGO -

No. 15 Loyola vs. No. 12 Cal State Northridge
March 9, 2012
9:00 p.m. CST
Northridge, Calif.


Last Time Out...
Despite a strong comeback to win the third and fourth sets, the No. 15 Loyola men's volleyball team fell in five (23-25, 24-26, 25-18, 25-20, 13-15) to California Baptist on Wednesday at Van Dyne Gym in Riverside, Calif. Hitting for a .400 percentage, Mike Bunting led the Ramblers with 25 total kills on the night. Cody Caldwell added 17 kills to the team offensive, while Peter Jasaitis tabbed 12 digs and Nail collected a career-high five blocks to pace Loyola on the defensive.

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.).

Cal State Northridge Scouting Report...
Loyola will get a second chance at the Matadores this Friday, having lost to the team earlier in the season at the UCSB/asicsTournament in Santa Barbara, Calif. Since the first meeting, CSUN, led by head coach Jeff Campbell, has worked to a 10-6 overall record and a 12th place national ranking. Anchoring the Matadores are senior Matt Stork and freshman Julius Hoefer. Stork, a 2010 All-MPSF honorable mention selection, is averagin 2.57 kills per set, while Hoefer leads the team with a total of 153 kills (3.06 kps).

Series History...
The Ramblers trail 3-1 in the all-time series against the Matadors after a loss from earlier in the year. Loyola fell in straight sets to CSUN in its last match of the Santa Barbara Tournament on Jan. 7.

Among The Best...
Many of the Ramblers have established themselves as some of the best in both the conference and the nation. Joe Smalzer and Mike Bunting have led the Rambler offense all season, culminating to sit sixth and seventh in the conference with 3.47 kps and 3.38 kps, respectively. Smalzer is also among the best in serving, holding the top spot among the MIVA and the fourth spot among the nation with 0.49 service aces per game. Setter Matt Mirick currently sits second among MIVA student-athletes and eighth nationwide with a 10.68 assists average, while Eric Daliege dominates all conference players with a .465 hitting percentage. On defense, libero Peter Jasaitis has totaled 153 digs so far this year to lead the conference with a 2.68 digs-per-set average, a statistic that also puts him second nationally.

Climbing The Boards...
Adding this season’s 177 kill total to his previous three years at Loyola, senior Mike Bunting has tallied 1,212 kills while wearing a Rambler jersey to place him fourth among Loyola’s career leaderboard. The next step up the ladder is Ted Groves’ third-place record of 1,435 kills, set during his 1996-2000 collegiate career.

Ace of Cakes, Cup Of Joe...
Last year, Joe Smalzer quickly established himself as a monumental threat when it came to the art of serving, notching 47 service aces throughout the season. With a combined total of 75 service aces during his two-year career, Smalzer is only six aces away from breaking into the career record list by tying Scott Greene’s (2002-2005) record of 81 for the No. 10 spot.

Smalzer has also been an offensive powerhouse for the Ramblers when it comes to the front row attack. Thanks to a six-kill performance against George Mason (2/17), Smalzer has passed the impressive mark of 500 total kills early in his career. So far this season, Smalzer has gathered 186 kills to lead the team on offense, also averaging 3.26 kills per set.

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. So far this season, Mirick has dished out 689 assists to his hitters, averaging 10.77 assists per set. Mirick has already more than doubled last season’s personal-best with a 56 assist performance against BYU on Jan. 6. With his total this season, Mirick already ranks sixth Loyola’s all-time career record list.

Senior Recognition...
Loyola will host a Senior Day Ceremony before the match on March 17 against Limestone in Gentile Arena. Head Coach Shane Davis and his staff will recognize six seniors on the Rambler squad that will depart from the program come graduation in May: Tommy Becker, Mike Bunting, Domenic DeWaele, J.J. Pincoski, Brendan Styler, and Steve Thompson.

New To Court...
Despite returning all but one regular starter from last season’s squad, Loyola’s lineup on the court has been predominately fresh-faced. Only three of the usual seven men on the court (libero included) were among last season’s regular starting squad. Junior Matt Mirick has taken over the leadership position at setter, while redshirt sophomore Peter Jasaitis is the new keeper of the backline, taking the libero role. Kyle Nail and Danny Podkowa have so far split duties of middle hitter (opposite Eric Daliege in the rotation) and freshman Cody Caldwell has established himself as a threatening weapon for the Ramblers on the outside.

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 seven newcomers to the 2012 roster (two transfers 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.