The Loyola women’s volleyball team (11-4, 3-0) swept Missouri State University 3-0 at Gentile Arena Monday night for its third straight Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) victory.
Sophomore middle blocker Elle Van Grinsven — who was named MVC Offensive Player of the Week Monday morning — and junior outside hitter Quinn Spieker led the Ramblers with 11 kills each on the night. Junior setter Delilah Wolf added 34 assists and senior libero Alex Nunez tallied 17 digs. Senior outside hitter Morgan Gresham came one kill away from a double-double, ending the night with nine kills and 10 digs.
“I think we passed a lot better that match and that’s kind of been our focus lately,” Loyola head coach Amanda Berkley said after the match. “We did some good things. It was nice to see the team really respond and play really well together.”
The Ramblers opened the first set on a 4-0 scoring run before Missouri State went on a 6-0 run of its own to make it 6-4 and force a Loyola timeout. The set went back-and-forth from there, but Loyola came out on top 25-22.
In the second set, Loyola jumped out to another 4-0 lead and never looked back, taking the set 25-18 to grab a 2-0 lead in the match.
Loyola opened the third set on a 6-0 run before Missouri State started to come back and cut the Ramblers’ lead to 8-5. Both teams traded points from there and the Ramblers held the Bears off 25-20 to win the match 3-0.
Missouri State was picked second in the MVC preseason poll this year and Loyola was picked eighth out of 10 teams. With the loss, the Bears fall to 7-9 overall and 0-3 in MVC play.
After the match, Van Grinsven said despite the Bears’ past success in the MVC, she thought this would be the year the Ramblers would come out on top against Missouri State because one of the Bears’ best players, All-MVC outside hitter Lily Johnson, graduated after last season.
“[It’s] so awesome just because I’ve known players in the past talking about [Missouri State] and how amazing the team was,” Van Grinsven said. “Yeah, they did lose one of the best players in our conference and it was our time to take it away. So it felt really good to win over them, even in three [sets].”
The win marks the first time Loyola has started 3-0 in conference play since 2004 when it was a member of the Horizon League. Last year, the Ramblers went 5-24 overall and 4-14 in MVC action.
Berkley said she didn’t realize it’d been that long since the team started this strong, and it “would’ve been a shock” to think of starting 3-0 in the MVC when the team took a trip to Italy in May.
“It’s been pretty cool just to see the team respond, I would say,” Berkley said. “I’m really proud of the girls for coming ready to go this season and playing well and … finding ways to win.”
The Ramblers are scheduled to take on University of Northern Iowa Sept. 28 at Gentile Arena at 7 p.m.