Rambler Men's Volleyball Takes On The Tornado

loycMUSTANGS.COM Reigning MIVA Offensive Player of the Week Mike Bunting will look to lead the Ramblers to victory over King on Thursday, March 15.
loycMUSTANGS.COM
Reigning MIVA Offensive Player of the Week Mike Bunting will look to lead the Ramblers to victory over King on Thursday, March 15.
loycMUSTANGS.COM

March 14, 2012

CHICAGO -

Loyola Ramblers vs. King Tornado
March 15, 2012
7:00 p.m. CST
Gentile Arena

Weekly Notes PDF Version

Last Time Out...
This past week, Loyola returned to the west coast to play Cal Baptist and have a second shot at Cal State Northridge, whom the team fell to earlier in the season. The Ramblers came up short in both matches to post 0-2 on the week. First, the Maroon and Gold traveled to Riverside, Calif. where, despite a strong comeback to win the third and fourth sets, the Ramblers fell in five (23-25, 24-26, 25-18, 25-20, 13-15). Loyola picked up its tenth loss against CSUN on Friday to move to 10-10 overall, falling by scores of 25-15, 25-18, and 25-20. The Matadors triggered a .452 hitting percentage to earn the sweep.

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.).

King Scouting Report...
King enters its first year as a full member of the Conference Carolinas and was picked to finish third in the coaches’ preseason poll, receiving one first-place vote. 2011 Coach of the Year Ryan Booher, returning for his second season at the helm, has guided his team to a 7-14 start in 2012. Senior opposite hitter James Friddle, a 2011 All-Conference selection, leads King on offense with 154 kills and currently hails as the all-time kills leader in school history.

Series History...
Thursday's match against King opens a new series of competitions as the two teams are playing each other for the first time in history.

MIVA Sweep...
After standout performances last week, Mike Bunting and Peter Jasaitis were named MIVA Players of the Week. Bunting earned his sixth career recognition as Offensive Player of the Week after averaging 5.14 points and 4.57 kills over the west coast swing. Bunting triggered an impressive .400 hitting percentage in the contest against Cal Baptist, collecting a season-high 25 kills and taking 50 of the team's 133 attack attempts, and closed out the week with a seven-kill performance against Cal State Northridge. Jasaitis picked up his second Defensive Player of the Week accolade of the season having led the Ramblers over the course of the week in California. Between the two matches he posted a .981 (53-of-54) reception percentage. In five sets against Cal Baptist, Jasaitis gathered a match-high 16 digs and executed perfect reception, successfully passing 32 serves. Two days later, he collected 12 digs against Cal State Northridge.

Senior Recognition...
Loyola will host a Senior Day Ceremony before Saturday’s match 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.

Among The Best...
Many of the Ramblers have established themselves as some of the best in both the conference and the nation. Mike Bunting and Joe Smalzer have led the Rambler offense all season, culminating to sit fifth and seventh in the conference with 3.54 kps and 3.15 kps, respectively. Smalzer is also among the best in serving, holding the top spot among the MIVA and the third spot among the nation with 0.48 service aces per game. Setter Matt Mirick currently sits fourth among MIVA student-athletes and tenth nationwide with a 10.61 assists average, while Eric Daliege dominates all conference players with a .449 hitting percentage. On defense, libero Peter Jasaitis has totaled 181 digs so far this year to lead the conference with a 2.78 digs-per-set average, a statistic that also puts him second nationally.

History In The Making...
Adding this season’s 152 kill total to his previous three years at Loyola, senior Mike Bunting has tallied 1,216 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 76 service aces during his two-year career, Smalzer is only five 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 189 kills to lead the team on offense, also averaging a second-place 3.15 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 700 assists to his hitters, averaging 10.61 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.

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.