Head coach Shane Davis and the Ramblers will kick-off the MIVA Tournament this Friday, April 20, at 7 p.m.
 
Head coach Shane Davis and the Ramblers will kick-off the MIVA Tournament this Friday, April 20, at 7 p.m.
 
 
Ramblers Play Host To Mastodons In MIVA First Round

April 18, 2012

CHICAGO -

MIVA Tournament Quarterfinals
No. 3 Loyola vs. No. 6 IPFW
April 20, 2012
7:00 p.m. CST
Gentile Arena

Weekly Notes PDF Version

Last Time Out...
Loyola found revenge against IPFW at the Gates Sports Center with a four-set victory (18-25, 25-18, 25-20, 25-21), spoiling senior night for the Mastodons and finishing the regular season with an 8-4 MIVA record (18-11 overall) and a third-place finish among the conference standings, earning hosting duties for a first-round match. Dainis Berzins led the Ramblers with 15 kills and 12 digs on the night while hitting for a .520 success rate. Mike Bunting tallied a match-high 16 kills and also added three service aces.

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 seven newcomers, including Volleyball Magazine's High School Player of the Year Cody Caldwell (Newport Beach, Calif.).

IPFW Scouting Report...
IPFW returns six starts to the 2012 roster, including two All-MIVA second team selections Eddie Rivera and CoreyFrain. The Mastodons closed the season with a 5-7 conference record (13-14 overall) to finish in sixth place among the MIVA. Senior Ivan Matos leads the IPFW offense with 325 total kills and a 3.82 kill-per-set average on the season. Sophomore Eddie Rivera is also playing well for the Mastodons, having collected 228 kills, including a game-high 15 against Ball State on April 7.

Series History...
Loyola took the series lead at 20-19 with the four-set win last Saturday, splitting the regular-season duel against the Mastodons. Friday's match will mark the sixth time the two teams have faced each other in a conference tournament setting with IPFW leading the postseason series 3-2.

Around The Tournament...
The MIVA Tournament kicks off this weekend in Gentile Arena when the Ramblers host the Mastodons. Also playing on Friday night will be No. 7 Quincy and No. 2 Lewis in Romeoville, Ill. Both matches will take place at 7:00 p.m. CST. The winners will then battle each other in the semifinals next Wednesday, April 25. The last quarterfinal match is set for Saturday, April 28 when No. 4 Grand Canyon welcomes No. 5 Ball State at 6:00 p.m. The winner of that match will move on to play No. 1 Ohio State, who nabbed the coveted first-round bye after tiebreaker rules. The MIVA Championship will commence on Saturday, April 28 with the highest remaining seed serving as host.

2012 MIVA Tournament Bracket

Quarterfinals at higher seed based on regular season standing finish

#1 Ohio State (bye)

Quarterfinals
Friday, April 20

#7 Quincy at #2 Lewis
#6 IPFW at #3 Loyola

Saturday, April 21
#5 Ball State at #4 Grand Canyon

Semifinals at highest remaining seed
Wednesday, April 25

Winner #4 vs. #5 at #1
Winner #2 vs. #7 vs. winner #3 vs. #6 

Championship at highest remaining seed
Saturday, April 28 

Semifinal winners

Breakthrough Berzins...
With the tournament just around the corner, sophomore Dainis Berzins is peaking at the perfect time. In the past few weeks, the outside hitter has led Loyola's offense against both Lindenwood and IPFW with 13 and 15 kills, respectively, while hitting over .500 in both contests. Berzins also tallied 12 digs last week to notch his first double-double of the season.

Aces Wild...
As a whole, the Ramblers have collected 135 service aces to close out the regular season ranked first in the conference. Joe Smalzer, who, with a four-ace performance last week tied his last year's total of 47, leads the team by far and also holds the top spot among the conference with a 0.52 per-set average. Trailing Smalzer is Mike Bunting with 21. Cody Caldwell adds 19 to the collective, while Dainis Berzins and Matt Mirick own 15 and 11, respectively.

Loyola has notched a service ace in all but two matches this season and has tallied four or more in 15 matches. The team strung together a season-high 11 aces against Lindenwood and neared that mark last weekend with another strong performance of 10 service aces against IPFW.

Among The Best...
Throughout the regular season, many of the Ramblers 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 sixth and seventh in the conference with 3.53 kps and 3.52 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 0.52 service aces per game. Setter Matt Mirick currently sits first among MIVA student-athletes and fourth nationwide with a 10.92 assists average.