The Loyola women’s volleyball team made its home-court debut against conference rivals Missouri State University on Sept. 26 in front of 300 fans. The Ramblers lost the match 3-2 in a five-game heartbreaker. The next day, they lost to another Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) team, Wichita State, 3-0. This brings the team’s record to 1-3 in the MVC and 5-8 overall.
Though the team hasn’t experienced much of a home-court advantage yet, the Ramblers are still glad to be playing in Gentile Arena.
“It was nice to be at home,” said Head Coach Chris Muscat. “I think playing at home is a little bit different than playing on the road. You [have to] find a different routine [and] a different way of doing things. I thought our girls did a good job of managing that aspect of playing at home. I think it was great to play in front of our own fans. It was an exciting match; hopefully we can continue to push forward as we compete for the Missouri Valley title.”
Sophomore outside hitter Morgan Reardon echoed her coach’s sentiment.
“I think there’s a lot of advantage playing at home,” Reardon said. “ You’re in your own gym, you have your own fans [and] I think it definitely helps. You’re sleeping in your own bed at night, and you get to play where you practice every day.”
During last year’s NCAA tournament, the members of Loyola’s men’s volleyball team noted that the lights against the black ceiling in Gentile Arena gave the team a distinct advantage over visiting opponents who were not used to that type of lighting.
“Certain gyms you go into and you’re not used to the lighting and you end up losing the ball in the lighting, and it’s really weird,” Reardon said. “[We’re] definitely used to the lighting in [Gentile].”
Sophomore middle blocker Sami Hansen added that normally, gyms have the lighting on the side of the court, whereas Gentile has the lighting on the top of the court, which makes it different.
Whether it be the lighting, the ball, the fans or the beds, the Ramblers believe they can give any team a run for its money when they are in the comfort of their home gym.
“I think every gym has a different atmosphere and a different environment,” Muscat said. “I think here you’re used to playing in your home gym and whatever that advantage may be. I think that everyone kind of gets used to playing in that environment. I think whenever you have a chance to play on your own home floor with your own lighting … that’s always a huge advantage coming down the stretch.”
While the team can always count on the familiarity of Gentile Area, they’re looking to have even more of a home-court advantage by getting more people into the stands.
“I think it would help that more peoples’ families can come, and we will be able to get more of a student body section,” Hansen said. “We’re really working hard to get more students to come to games.”
The Ramblers hope to make use of the home court advantage more in the seven remaining home games to change their results from losses to wins.