Loyola found a way to pick up its ninth sweep of the season in a Thursday night triumph over McKendree. Paul Narup was a perfect 10-for-10 on the attack to become the second player in program history to register a 1.000 attack percentage in a match (min. 3.3 attacks per set played).
Coach Hulse's Thoughts
"We did the things really well that we needed to do, based on what we weren't doing well," head coach Mark Hulse said. "In some of the categories we were really proficient at times and we were a little less proficient today, but we stepped up in other categories."
How It Happened
McKendree hit .361 (14-1-36) in the opening set and rode a 5-1 run to grab an early 9-6 lead. The Ramblers battled back to tie it twice at 16-16 and 18-18, but a Bearcat kill and block in succession elevated the visitor's lead to 20-18. Following a LUC timeout, a 4-0 run turned the tables and put Loyola in control – a stretch that was anchored by three kills and a Garrett Zolg service ace. McKendree forced extras, but the Ramblers claimed the next two points to win the opening set, 26-24.
Loyola raced out to a 6-2 lead in a middle frame that neither team hit above .200. A Bearcat 6-2 run of their own tied it back up, followed by the visitors taking the lead at 10-9. It was the last advantage McKendree would enjoy, as a 3-0 Rambler run put them up for good at 12-10. Three Kyle Piekarski kills fueled a 5-0 Loyola hot streak that widened the advantage to 19-13, which was followed by back-to-back Kyler Kotsakis service aces that went down as another MU deathblow. Will Tischler's eighth kill of the night finished off a 25-19 set two triumph.
The Ramblers jumped all over McKendree early and often in the final stanza. Three Tischler kills paced a 12-3 open that had six kills, two blocks and an ace. Zolg was responsible for the Ramblers' early ace, setting a new career high with his fifth of the contest. As the Bearcats points started to fall, Loyola countered punch-for-punch with a pair of Collin Mahan kills that put the home team up by 10 at 18-8. After earning a 19-9 lead, Thomas Kovanic entered the match and powered Loyola with two kills and two blocks down the stretch to complete the 25-13 set three win, and straight-sets match win in the process.
A Look at the Numbers
-Collin Mahan led the Ramblers with 10 digs and passed Marcos Cordova for the 10th most by a Rambler in a career. Mahan enters Friday with 567 career digs to his credit.
-Garrett Zolg's career-best five service aces put him at 26 on the year to surpass last season's total of 24.
-The Ramblers now have four players with 150-plus digs this season (Avery Aylsworth, 189; Garrett Zolg, 155; Will Tischler, 150; Collin Mahan, 150).
-Thursday's win guarantees Loyola will play the opening round of the MIVA Tournament at home, as the 9-2 MIVA record prevents them from finishing lower than fourth.
The Ramblers welcome the Ohio State Buckeyes to Gentile Arena tomorrow night (March 29) for a 7 p.m. first serve. A victory over the Buckeyes would mark the first time since 2015 Loyola swept the regular season series.
3/28 - Loyola 3, McKendree 0