The Loyola women’s volleyball team (14-18, 9-9) battled against itself throughout its fall season. The Ramblers faced a heap of adversity including injuries and holes in the rotation left by graduated seniors.
The Ramblers were challenged late in the season when first-year setter Delilah Wolf tore her ACL in the Ramblers’ game against Missouri State on Nov. 6, an injury that caused her to miss the final 15 sets of the season. Prior to the injury, Wolf recorded a team-high 26 service aces and averaged 9.87 assists per set.
But as the saying goes, “The show must go on.” And that’s what Loyola tried to do all season.
The team started the season off slow, dropping its first three games before rebounding back with three wins. Throughout the entire season, the Ramblers were unable to win more than three consecutive wins — and even that, they only managed to accomplish it twice.
Loyola’s season came to an abrupt halt when the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) swept the Ramblers in the quarterfinal rounds in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) tournament. The Panthers have had the Ramblers’ number since Loyola joined the conference in 2013. UNI has outlasted Loyola in the pair’s past nine meetings, sweeping the Ramblers four times.
Despite losing in the first round of the conference tournament, the team accomplished its overarching goal by qualifying for the tournament for the second year in a row.
Senior outside hitter Morgan Reardon said she thought the season went “fairly well.”
“We had some late injuries and a little bit of more adversity than we had hoped for, but I think, overall, it was a good step forward,” said Reardon. “We made the conference tournament again, which was one of our goals from the start. I think it was a good start, but there’s definitely room for improvement.”
The Ramblers are taking a huge hit in the offseason with the loss of Reardon to graduation. Since Reardon arrived on campus in the fall of 2013, the Joliet, Illinois, native has nothing short of a record-breaking career at Loyola. Reardon capped off her final campaign with a team-high 415 kills and an average of 3.52 kills per set average. This was her fourth-straight year leading the team in kills-per-set average.
In total, the Ramblers are only losing three seniors, with only Reardon and senior middle blocker Sami Hansen as consistent starters. Hansen recorded a team-high 109 blocks and averaged .91 blocks per set.
Despite the loss of two impact players, the Ramblers will welcome back two-thirds of its starting lineup, including sophomore outside hitter Gabi Maciagowski and first-year outside hitter Quinn Spieker. Maciagowski record the team’s second-best kills-per-set average (3.30) and block-per-set average among starters (.54).
With a youthful roster, Reardon said she is excited to see where the program will go from here and hopes her teammates will use the UNI loss as motivation during the offseason.
“Obviously, it was pretty disappointing [losing in the quarterfinal round] — not really how we wanted to go out,” said Reardon. “If there’s one bright thing to look at, it’s that sweep in the first round [that] can kind of motivate the younger girls … Hopefully, it drives them in the future … The younger girls have gained a little bit of experience this year, and I think the future is moving in the right direction.”