The No. 10 Loyola men’s volleyball team (14-9, 7-5) experienced heartbreak in Romeoville after the Ramblers fell to their cross-state rival No. 7 Lewis University in five sets on March 28. The loss comes after Loyola started to garner momentum with three-straight wins.
Despite career nights for junior opposite Ben Plaisted and sophomore outside hitters Will Tischler and Collin Mahan, the Ramblers were unable to pull the upset over the Flyers.
Plaisted recorded a career-high 25 kills on the evening, and posted nine digs and four blocks. Tischler followed with a season-high 16 kills. Mahan was just shy of a double-double with nine kills and 10 digs.
But their efforts combined were not enough, and despite winning the second and third set, Loyola dropped the final two sets to lose in the fifth set by three points.
The Ramblers hosted two home games before the Lewis loss.
Plaisted led the Ramblers with 11 kills en route to sweeping St. Francis University 3-0 on March 24. Mahan and junior middle blocker Jeff Jendryk also tallied nine kills each.
After the Friday night sweep, Loyola hosted No. 13 Penn State University on March 25. After winning the first two sets, Loyola dropped the third set 25-22. But the Nittany Lions didn’t have a chance against Loyola’s aggressive offense and strong defensive efforts forced Penn State to drop the match 3-1. Mahan and Plaisted shined again as Loyola’s top scorers. Mahan striked 12 kills and Plaisted tallied a match-high 16 kills. As a team, the Ramblers posted 16.5 blocks during the match.
Plaisted is lighting up the men’s volleyball team’s stat sheets.
Plaisted, who leads the team averaging 3.27 kills per set with a .220 hitting percentage and has a season-high 15 service aces, has tallied 10 or more kills a match for 13-straight matches. His double-digit run dates back to Feb. 11, when Plaisted posted a team-best 11 kills in Loyola’s 3-0 loss to The No. 1 Ohio State University.
Most recently, the Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, native struck down a game-high 25 kills against the Flyers with a .268 hitting percentage.
Plaisted isn’t the only Rambler finding his groove at the front of the net. Mahan is also making a name for himself by building off the impressive rookie performance he had last season.
As a first-year player, Mahan played in 86 of Loyola’s 107 sets and averaged nearly two kills per set with a .278 hitting percentage. This year, Mahan is continuing on the path of being a promising offensive powerhouse for head coach Mark Hulse, averaging 2.15 kills per set.
Since March 28, Mahan averaged a .319 hitting percentage in the last three games against St. Francis, Penn State and Lewis.
One sophomore caught the attention of the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (MIVA) for his defensive efforts. Middle blocker Paul Narup received MIVA Defensive Player of the Week honors on March 27. Narup averaged two blocks per set over the weekend against St. Francis and Penn State, totaling 14 blocks in the two home games.
The Ramblers have four games left of their season before the MIVA tournament and will look to bounce back from their loss to the Flyers. Loyola is scheduled to host Grand Canyon University in back-to-back home matches on March 31 and April 1 at 7 p.m.
The Ramblers will round out its regular season on the road against IPFW on April 6 at 6 p.m. and Ball State University on April 8 at 6:30 p.m. Loyola defeated both teams back in February, beating IPFW in four sets and sweeping Ball State in three sets.