April 17, 2013
CHICAGO - Junior Joe Smalzer (Palos Heights, Ill./Marist) was named Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Player of the Year while teammate Thomas Jaeschke (Wheaton, Ill./Wheaton Warrenville South) earned Freshman of the Year distinction as the MIVA announced its postseason awards today. Smalzer is the third Rambler to win Player of the Year honors and first since Chris Kozlarek in 2006. Jaeschke becomes Loyola's fifth rookie to earn the Freshman of the Year award with Smalzer being LU's most recent recipient back in 2011. Ball State's Joel Walton was named conference Coach of the Year.
Smalzer was terrific all season, pacing the MIVA in kills (373, 3.81 kills per set) while leading the country in aces (64, 0.65 aps). He reached double figures in kills in 13 of Loyola's 14 conference matches as the Ramblers earned a share of the MIVA regular-season title and pounded out a career-best 28 kills against George Mason in January. Smalzer played his best volleyball in some of Loyola's biggest matches, recording 19 kills at Ohio State and following that up with a 15-kill, seven-ace performance as the Ramblers swept the Buckeyes at Gentile Arena.
He recorded his 1,000th career kill in late March against Grand Canyon and already owns Loyola's career service ace record despite having another year of eligibility left.
Jaeschke improved as the season progressed, turning into one of the MIVA's best and most efficient hitters in his inaugural season. He finished fifth in the conference with a .346 hitting percentage while ranking seventh in kills (306, 3.29 kps) and was even better during conference play, improving his numbers to 3.70 kills per set while hitting at a .378 clip. He recorded a season-high 19 kills on three different occasions and notched his first double-double with 14 kills and 11 digs in the regular-season finale at Ball State.
Smalzer and Jaeschke were joined on the First Team All-MIVA by Jamion Hartley, Greg Herceg, Kevin Owens and Tommy Rouse of Ball State, B.J. Boldog and Geoff Powell (Lewis), Michael Henchy and Brennan Anderson (Ohio State) and Eddie Rivera (IPFW).
No. 12 Loyola (19-9) opens MIVA Tournament action as the No. 2 seed and will face seventh-seeded Quincy (10-20) in a quarterfinal match on Friday night (April 19). First serve from Gentile Arena is scheduled for 7 p.m.