Loyola men's volleyball hits the road to Columbus, Ohio for a MIVA match against the Buckeyes this Friday at 6:00 p.m. CST.
 
Loyola men's volleyball hits the road to Columbus, Ohio for a MIVA match against the Buckeyes this Friday at 6:00 p.m. CST.
 
 
Loyola Looks To Ohio State For Crucial MIVA Battle

March 29, 2012

CHICAGO -

Loyola at Ohio State
March 30, 2012
6:00 p.m. CST
Columbus, Ohio
Big Ten Network

Rally For The Upset..
Loyola (16-10, 7-3 MIVA) rallied back from a two-set deficit to upset No. 6 Lewis (19-5, 5-2) in five sets last night. The Ramblers took the hard-fought match by scores of 24-26, 25-27, 25-19, 25-20, and 15-2 to split the season series against the Flyers.Joseph Smalzer once again turned in a record-setting performance, blasting a career-best 26 kills in the match, while also tallying 10 digs for his second double-double of the season. Mike Bunting collected 18 kills and Cody Caldwell added eight. Matt Mirick chipped in a personal-best 60 assists to quarterback the offense.

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.).

Ohio State Scouting Report...
Defending National Champion Ohio State, led by Pete Hanson in his 28th year as head coach, heads into the week with an 14-8 overall record (4-3 conference). Senior Shawn Sangray, who was tabbed to the 2010 All-MIVA First Team, has collected 394 kills this season to lead the conference currently leads the nation with 4.80 kills per set. Sangray has twice been awarded Offensive Player of the Week (1/23, 1/30). The Buckeyes come into the week on the heels of a 1-1 series against the Hawks. Ohio State fell to Quincy in four sets on Friday before rebounding for a sweep the following night, snapping a three-game losing streak.  

Series History...
Loyola searches for redemption this week, having lost to Ohio State earlier in the season. On Feb. 25, Loyola hosted the Buckeyes in a match that resulted in a 3-0 loss for the Ramblers. Ohio State now leads 29-13 to maintain the hold on the all-time series against the Ramblers.

Catching Fire...
The Ramblers have put together their longest winning streak of the season, having won the past six straight matches. It looks as if the Maroon and Gold has finally found its groove and is peaking at the exact right time. Friday's match against another national powerhouse is crucial for Loyola if it wants to earn a comfortable spot in the MIVA tournament and keep NCAA hopes alive.  

Cup Of Joe...
After a record-breaking week, Joseph Smalzer has been tabbed the Sports Imports/AVCA National Player of the Week. and the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association Offensive Player of the Week. Averaging 5.64 points, 4.73 kills, and 2.27 digs per set, Smalzer helped the Ramblers to three conference wins last week, moving the team to second place in the MIVA rankings. The award is the first for Smalzer and marks the third week in a row that a Loyola player has received the honor.

In the week's opening match against Ball State, Smalzer launched a then-career-best 22 kills and tallied four aces. In Friday's match, he blasted the Antelopes by hitting for a then-career-best .562 success rate and collecting his first double-double of the season (18 kills, 11 digs). In the encore match, Smalzer committed zero errors to better his career-high hitting percentage to .667 (12-0-18). He also tallied a personal-best six blocks and eight digs to help limit Grand Canyon to a .020 hitting mark.

Smalzer has continued his dominance into last night's upset over No. 6 Lewis. Posting 26 kills, Smalzer once again established a new career-high making it the fourth game in a row that the opposite hitter has set a personal-best in some category.

Anchoring the Backline...
On defense, libero Peter Jasaitis has totaled 217 digs so far this year. He currently leads the conference with a 2.75 digs-per-set average and as of March 26 he leads the nation with the same statistic. Jasaitis has had some breakout performances in recent weeks. On March 23, the California native played for a career-best 18 digs to help the Ramblers claim the series sweep over the Antelopes. In last night's match against Lewis, he made multiple key saves and scrappy dives to save the rally against a hard-hitting Flyer offense, tallying 14 digs on the night.  

Aces Wild...
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. So far this season, Smalzer has blasted 37 aces, tying his career-record of six in a match twice (BYU on Jan. 6 and Pacific on Jan. 13). He has also notched at least one ace in 14 of the 26 total matches on the schedule, gathering more than one ace in nine of those contests. Loyola is 9-5 when Smalzer serves for an ace. After tallying four service aces Tuesday against Ball State, Smalzer has solidified a spot among the career record list. His 84-ace total places him tenth on the list, with the next step, held by Ted Groves, only one mark away.

As a whole, the Ramblers have collected 112 service aces to rank second in the conference headed into the weekend. Trailing Smalzer, who leads the team by far with 37 aces, is freshman Cody Caldwell with 19. Mike Bunting adds 16 to the collective, while Dainis Berzins and Matt Mirick own 12 and 10, respectively.

History In The Making...
Adding this season's 242 kill total to his previous three years at Loyola, senior Mike Bunting has tallied 1,274 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.

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 879 assists to his hitters, averaging 10.72 assists per set. Mirick has nearly tripled his previous record, dishing out 60 assists in the match against Lewis on March 27. Mirick already ranks sixth Loyola's all-time career record list.