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MIVA Semifinals - Loyola 3, Ball State 1 / Ohio State 3, Lewis 2

MIVA Semifinals - Loyola 3, Ball State 1 / Ohio State 3, Lewis 2

Loyola 3, Ball State 1
In Short
Second-seeded Loyola University Chicago (23-6) received 16 kills from Collin Mahan and dominated play at the net, totaling 15 blocks, to rally for a 22-25, 25-19, 25-15, 25-22 victory over No. 3 seed Ball State (18-12) tonight at Gentile Arena in a Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association semifinal round contest. With the win, the Ramblers advance to the MIVA championship match for the first time since 2015, where they will face top-seeded Ohio State.

How It Happened
A Parker Swartz kill opened up a 3-0 Ball State spurt early in the first set to give the Cardinals a 9-6 lead they would never relinquish en route to a 25-22 victory. Loyola closed within a single point on seven occasions from that point forward, but Ball State had an answer each time. After a Matt Walsh service error cut the Ramblers' deficit to 23-22, a kill from Ben Chinnici and a Jake Romano service ace finished off the BSU win.

Loyola hit a scorching .407 in set two as it rolled to a 25-19 victory that tied the match at a set apiece. A 4-0 run gave the Ramblers control of the match, turning a one-point deficit into an 11-8 lead. Paul Narup almost single-handedly accounted for the turnaround, tallying the final three points of that run on a pair of kills and an ace. Ball State closed within two on a couple of occasions, but Mahan delivered a kill and then an ace top push the advantage to 15-11 and Loyola never looked back.

A 7-1 run at the outset of the third set provided all the cushion the Ramblers would need as they snagged a 2-1 lead in the match with a 25-15 decision. Fueling that Loyola spurt were a pair of blocks and a kill from Jeff Jendryk and a kill and two blocks from Mahan.

Mahan and Jendryk provided most of the damage in set four, combining for eight of Loyola's 14 kills and six total blocks as Loyola outlasted Ball State for a 25-22 victory in a back-and-forth battle. The Ramblers led by as many as three points, but the Cardinals would claw their way back and led for the final time at 19-18 on a kill from Mitch Weiler. Loyola finally took the lead for good, at 23-22, on a Garrett Zolg kill and Mahan followed with another stop before a BSU ball handling error closed out the match.

A Look At The Numbers
Mahan added six digs and five blocks, to go with 16 kills and a .424 (16-2-33) hitting percentage, to lead the Loyola attack, which hit at a .323 efficiency on the night.
Ricky Gevis pitched in 12 kills, while Jendryk finished with nine kills and seven blocks.
Ryan Jamison added eight kills and a career-best 17 digs, and Avery Aylsworth also posted a personal best with 17 digs.
Ben Chinnici led Ball State with 15 kills.
Loyola has won 16 straight matches at Gentile Arena since a setback versus Long Beach State on January 13.

Up Next
Loyola visits No. 1 seed Ohio State on Saturday, April 21 at 7 p.m. Eastern in the MIVA Championship.

Ohio State 3, Lewis 2
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State is heading to its third consecutive MIVA Championship Match after out-lasting 10th-ranked Lewis University (19-11) in a roller coaster five-set contest (25-9, 25-17, 22-25, 20-25, 15-8). The No. 7 Buckeyes improve to 22-5 overall and will host No. 8 Loyola Chicago Saturday night inside St. John Arena with a ticket to the NCAA Championships on the line.

Ohio State not only split the season series against the Ramblers, but also shared the 2018 MIVA regular season crown. Saturday night will settle the score for '18.

Buckeye senior Nicolas Szerszen became Ohio State's career leader in kills with his fourth kill of the night, running his career total past Steve Potter's 1,602 (1992-95). Szerszen is now the top gun in school history for kills, points and aces.

Head coach Pete Hanson is one win away from becoming just the third coach in NCAA men's volleyball history to reach 700 total career victories. He owns an overall record of 699-339 (.673) and could join Al Scates (UCLA, 1963-2012; 1,239 wins) and Don Shondell (Ball State, 1964, 1966-98; 769 wins) in the 700-Win Club on Saturday. Ranking fourth on the all-time list is Fort Wayne's Arnie Ball (1981-2015) with 574 triumphs.

Blake Leeson and Jake Hanes each set career highs for blocks, posting 10 and seven rejections, respectively. Overall, the Buckeyes racked up 16.0 team blocks in limiting Lewis to a .148 team hitting efficiency. Twelve of Ohio State's stuffs came in the first two sets, strangling the Flyer offense into the negatives for hitting efficiency entering Set 3.

SET 1: Ohio State maintained a slim one-point edge early in the match at 7-6. Nine straight for the Buckeyes followed, bursting to a 16-6 lead. Momentum continued throughout an 18-3 set-closing run (25-9). The stat sheet was dominated by Ohio State, out-killing the Flyers 13-2 and sending back five blocks for a .579 to minus-.300 hitting percentage advantage.

SET 2: Little changed in the second as Ohio State led wire-to-wire in a 25-17 winner. Hanes was a monster, drilling six kills and contributing four block assists. Leeson had four blocks in Set 1 and came back with three more in the second stanza. The Buckeyes registered seven swats in total, garnering a two-sets-to-none upper hand in less than 50 minutes.

SET 3-4: The next two frames witnessed 23 tied scores and six lead changes as the Flyers erased any notions of a short evening. Lewis picked up 25-22 and 25-20 triumphs to force a decisive fifth set.

SET 5: Szerszen, who was having a bit of an 'off' night offensively, rose to the occasion in the fifth, bouncing each of his first two swings to push Ohio State ahead 2-1. Hanes would make a big impact by set's end as well, delivering consecutive aces to stretch the lead to 7-3. Nick Laffin and Szerszen also tallied aces, the latest of which came from Szerszen and shoved Lewis into its final timeout at 13-7. Two Flyer blunders then handed Ohio State its spot in the MIVA Finals as 15-8 victors.