The Loyola men’s volleyball team (7-2) is without senior outside hitter Ryan Jamison, who sprained his ankle Jan. 20. With Jamison out of the starting lineup — with no timetable for his return — others will have to step up in his place.
The Ramblers beat No. 15 University of California, Santa Barbara 3-1 Jan. 25 and extended their win streak to four games Jan. 27 when they defeated No. 9 California State University, Northridge 3-1.
With Jamison out, head coach Mark Hulse said a few different players were fighting in practice for his starting position. Senior opposite Ricky Gevis is one of those players. Gevis, who is back after having shoulder surgery last season, put up impressive numbers during the two games, totaling 26 kills, seven digs and seven blocks.
“Ricky approaching full speed is huge and it makes a big difference,” Hulse said. “It shows the hard work he has been putting in … after a pretty serious injury last year. I think that provides a little bit of a boost for the guys as well. When you have got the guy you are pulling for start to find some success that he has worked at, I think that is inspirational and it is kind of good for everybody.”
Jamison has been a key part to the team’s success this season so far, especially with one NCAA championship ring under his belt. During his absence, senior middle blocker Jeff Jendryk said he’ll need to step up.
“[I can help out by] being more communicative on the court,” Jendryk said. “Just being a little bit louder and trying to pick everybody else up because it kind of stinks when one of your teammates gets hurt. You just have to do as much as you can to bounce back.”
Junior libero Avery Aylsworth and Jendryk said Jamison tries to keep things light and make everyone laugh, whether it be during games or in practice.
“If we ever have a hard practice he is like the glue of the team,” Jendryk said. “He is going to crack some jokes, get everyone to kind of chuckle. He is a really good teammate and he just keeps practice fun and entertaining. It is good having him around.”
Jamison will have a different role on the team while on the bench. Watching the game from a different perspective, he can observe and give his teammates advice on what to fix. Jendryk said Jamison can still help by telling the team things they need to work on and things they are doing well.
“He still has all that experience. When you are off the court, you can see a lot more things than when you are on the court,” Jendryk said. “It is going to be helpful. He is still going to be learning when he is off the court. I think that is going to be a good thing for him.”
Having played with Jamison for his entire collegiate career, Jendryk has watched him develop into the leader he is today. Jendryk said Jamison was quite shy when he first started but that’s since changed.
“Now, being a senior and starting, it’s a huge opportunity for him to be a leader,” Jendryk said. “He has been doing a really good job. He is actually communicating to the younger guys what he sees on the court.”
Hulse said Jamison is a good teammate and has been good for the team morale since he’s been here.
“I think he is probably everybody’s favorite guy on the team,” Hulse said. “He is showing up to practice everyday, he is really diligent, a hard working guy and he is a good teammate. What else can you ask for? You show up and you’re a good teammate, taking care of the guy next to you, and you work hard.”
In his absence, Hulse said he thinks newcomers such as first-year outside hitter Thomas Kovanic, first-year outside hitter Devin Joslyn and first-year setter Garrett Zolg can step up and help the team continue to win games.
“[The newcomers] have added some versatility,” Hulse said. “Thomas Kovanic can play three different positions and Devin can probably play two and Garrett has been pretty steady.”
The team has a lot of depth this season, which can be a good or bad thing, according to Hulse. He said they always want to put their best players on the court who will help win the game.
Although Jamison’s been a huge part of their team this year, Hulse, Aylsworth and Jendryk agree his injury won’t have a negative effect on their team going forward, especially since it’s still early in the season. This allows other players to step up and have their opportunity to play.
“If one of us gets injured, we have many guys that are willing to step up, wanting to step up and they’re ready to play,” Jendryk said. “I don’t think that there is going to be a big impact.”
The Ramblers are scheduled to take on University of Southern California Feb. 3 in Gentile Arena.