Sophomore Peter Jasaitis currently ranks as the lead libero in the nation with a dig-per-set average of 2.76.
 
Sophomore Peter Jasaitis currently ranks as the lead libero in the nation with a dig-per-set average of 2.76.
 
 
Loyola Hosts Lindenwood Tonight In Gentile

April 4, 2012

CHICAGO -

Weekly Notes PDF Version

Last Time Out...
Despite a hard-fought battle against conference rival Ohio State, the Loyola men's volleyball team fell in three sets last week Friday, ending its winning streak at six. The Buckeyes defeated the Ramblers by scores of 25-22, 25-20, and 25-23. Joe Smalzer led with a match-high 17 kills and Mike Bunting added 13. As part of the Rambler defensive effort, Peter Jasaitis collected nine digs while Steve Thompson garnered four of seven total team blocks.

Scouting Loyola...
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.).

Lindenwood Scouting Report...
Led by Ron Young in his 12th year as the men’s volleyball head coach, Lindenwood battles Loyola this week to begin the final push, facing the season’s remaining three competitors on the road. Headed into the week, the Lions are 17-12 overall after splitting the series against Grand Canyon last weekend. Among the top returners are senior Jack Mitchell and sophomore Michael Adams who collectively have gathered 607 kills so far this season, nearly half of the team’s overall total. Lindenwood currently competes as an independent as a NAIA school, but is on track to join the NCAA for the 2013 season.

Series History...
The Ramblers look to remain undefeated against the Lions when the two teams meet for the eighth time in program history tonight in Gentile Arena. Loyola and Lindenwood previously met on Jan. 22, 2011 where the Maroon and Gold took the win in four sets at home.

Back On The Board...
After a three-week absence, the Ramblers have taken back their place on the AVCA Division I-II Men’s Coaches Top 15 Poll, due largely to its dominating performance against then-No. 6 Lewis on March 27. Loyola received 25 points to earn the No. 15 spot, trailing Hawai’i at No. 14 by only two.

Coming up just shy on votes received in the past, the Maroon and Gold was also finally able to break into the Asics/Volleyball Magazine Men’s Division I-II Top 10 Poll for the first time since premeire vote in the preseason. With four points, Loyola men’s volleyball stands at No. 10.

Cup Of Joe...
After a record-breaking week in which he was tabbed the Sports Imports/AVCA National Player of the Week and the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association Offensive Player of the Week, redshirt sophomore Joseph Smalzer is back on the court, looking to extend his recent success.

After tallying a team-high 95 combined kills in Loyola’s final five matches of the March, Smalzer was named a finalist for Off the Block Fan Choice National Player of the Month. Posting a career-high 26 kills in a five-game upset victory against then-No. 6 Lewis, he 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. Smalzer currently leads the Ramblers on offense with a total of 303 kills and a 3.61 kill-per-set average.

Anchoring the Backline...
On defense, libero Peter Jasaitis has totaled 240 digs so far this year, placing him fourth among the program’s season record list. He currently dominates the conference with a 2.76 digs-per-set average and as of April 4 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 week’s match against Lewis, he made multiple key saves and scrappy dives to continue the rally against a hard-hitting Flyer offense, tallying 14 digs on the night.  

History In The Making...
Adding this season’s 255 kill total to his previous three years at Loyola, senior Mike Bunting has tallied 1,287 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.

Block Party...
Junior Eric Daliege has been a combative force for the Ramblers at the net. Boasting eight solo and 82 assisted blocks, the middle hitter reigns as the team-leader in the category with the nearest teammate trailing with 47 blocks (Joseph Smalzer). Earlier this season, Daliege established a new career-best of nine blocks against IPFW (Feb. 24) and recently tied that mark at Grand Canyon on March 23. Headed into the week, Daliege is averaging 1.01 blocks per set.

Aces Wild...
As a whole, the Ramblers have collected 114 service aces to rank second in the conference headed into the week. Trailing Joe Smalzer, who leads the team by far with 37 aces, is freshman Cody Caldwell with 19. Mike Bunting adds 17 to the collective, while Dainis Berzins and Matt Mirick own 12 and 10, respectively.

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 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.

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. Mirick is nearing the 1,000 mark, having dished out 978 assists to his hitters, averaging 10.87 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.

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 and fifth in the conference with 3.61 kps and 3.49 kps, respectively. Smalzer is also among the best in serving, holding the top spot among the MIVA and the eighth spot among the nation with 0.44 service aces per game. Setter Matt Mirick currently sits second among MIVA student-athletes and sixth nationwide with a 10.87 assists average.

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.