The No.12 Loyola men’s volleyball team lost on Friday to No. 4 Cal State Northridge in a five-game match. The Ramblers dropped games one and two, but came out of the break and won games three and four to force a fifth game. Loyola led or was tied with the Matadors until the game was tied at 11 when Northridge went on a match-winning run and won 12-15.
Game one was close. The Ramblers fell in a 7-13 hole but went on two three-point runs and brought the game to 13-14. However, they were not able to muster much after that as Northridge went on a run of their own and moved ahead 19-14. Both sides had multiple service errors and traded off points until the Matadors eventually won 30-22.
Game two ended with Northridge once again winning by a 30-22 score. Both teams benefited from the other’s mistakes, but Loyola was much less disciplined. There were many miscommunications, and the Ramblers lost focus early. According to Coach Shane Davis, the team’s preparation wasn’t up to the challenge Northridge posed.
“In games one and two we just weren’t ready to play,” Davis said.
Junior outside hitter Joe Guntli, who tallied 10 kills and seven digs, agrees. “We just came out flat and it caught up with us really quick,” he said.
“I can’t tell you what it was. Everyone was so upset about not playing well, but the effort wasn’t there either,” Davis said.
Coming out of the intermission, the Ramblers jumped on Northridge early and took a 7-3 lead in game three. Northridge was behind the entire game, and the closest they got to Loyola was within three points (19-16).
Davis had to make more substitutions than normal, trying to find a winning combination.
“We just did whatever it took in game three to get people out there with emotion that I knew were going to try hard,” he said. “We just wanted to find some emotional spark plug out there. [With] Joe Guntli on the opposite side, he didn’t have to worry about passing, so he was just out there to play with emotion. And then [we had] a spark off the bench with [sophomore outside hitter] George [Kamberos]. George did a great job for us tonight.”
Kamberos was called into action in game three and remained in for the rest of the match. He recorded a career-high 15 kills and also added five digs. Eleven of those kills came in game four, which was a 32-30 victory for Loyola. In game four, Loyola made more mistakes and found themselves behind yet again. They hung around and did not let Northridge get too far ahead, and they eventually tied the game at 29. With the game tied at 30, a volley got hung up in the rafters of Alumni Gym and the Ramblers got a 31-30 lead. A service ace by Guntli gave the Ramblers the win.
Loyola had momentum going into game five thanks to the adjustments at the intermission. “We had to try to pass the ball to get the middle more involved, and that’s what George [Kamberos] did,” Davis said. “They started missing some [serves] so we wanted to make sure we kept our serve on them.”
Loyola got the first point of game five before the two teams traded point for point until the Matadors tied the game at 11. Northridge went on a 4-1 run to end the game, the match and Loyola’s comeback hopes. “We just didn’t make plays in game five,” Davis said. “We just didn’t make plays, we didn’t adjust fast enough. We knew what they were doing; we just couldn’t stop them.”
According to Kamberos, the problem was psychological. “They got into our heads a little bit right at the end,” he said. “Our fans stopped being in their face and then we stopped backing up our fans.”
Guntli belives it was simply a matter of performance. “We were playing with them until 10s, and then we couldn’t stop a run. They got on a run and that was it.”
The substitutions after the intermission kept a few starters on the bench and came as a surprise, but they allowed Loyola to make a comeback and challenge Northridge. “Coach Davis just wanted to stir things up a little bit, switch it up, see if we could win doing other things,” Guntli said. “It wasn’t that one person was playing bad or another person was playing better, but we wanted to try something different because we didn’t have any energy.”
“We ended up playing a lot differently when we switched the lineup around and, it ended up getting us a couple of Ws so it worked out pretty well.”
Kamberos had a little extra motivation that sparked his play coming off the bench.
“I know a kid on their team. We always played against each other in high school, and I just wanted to show off.”]]>