The Loyola men’s volleyball team will be hosting a unique tournament at Gentile Arena Oct. 28 — one which will feature two simultaneous games.
Carthage College, Clarke University and McKendree University are the other three teams in the four-team, round-robin tournament. The games will occur at 10 a.m., noon and 3 p.m.
According to head coach Mark Hulse, Loyola has hosted an exhibition tournament in the past, usually having many more than four teams. Hulse said he believes this tournament format is better than in years past and will allow teams to prepare better for the season.
“We have good teams coming to our tournament,” Hulse said. “We used to run it a little differently. Last year we had as many as 12 to 15 different teams. This year, we’re just going to have four so we’ll get more meaningful matches.”
Facility coordinator Wesley Nader said the normal volleyball court runs east-west, but the two courts used for the tournament will run north-south. He said the transformation of Gentile Arena to fit two, regulation-size volleyball courts will limit seating for fans, but they’re still able to attend the tournament.
“For this [tournament], everybody is going to be seated in the upper bowl and all the bleachers are going to be pushed in,” Nader said. “It’s going to be really loud, organized chaos. With it being an exhibition, it’s kind of easier because while there’s a lot of noise, everybody is starting to get used to the season.”
Nader said in past tournaments games were played in the Halas Recreation Center gym to accommodate all the teams. He said having two separate playing locations made it difficult to coordinate the tournament, and playing all the games in Gentile should make the tournament run smoothly.
“Last year, there was a game going on in Halas and two going on in Gentile,” Nader said. “There is a possibility for three games in Gentile, and they do that for practice, but I don’t think there were three at one time [in Gentile].”
According to Hulse, one of the benefits of a smaller tournament field is that it allows all the games to be played in Gentile Arena. Hulse said the experience of playing in Gentile Arena is useful for both Loyola and visiting teams, even if the courts are oriented differently.
“When conference teams come in they want to get used to Gentile, it’s not an easy place to play so you want to get in that gym,” Hulse said. “Ball State [University] coming all the way to Chicago and being in Halas doesn’t make them any better.”
Preseason practice started Oct. 10 and Loyola played their first exhibition game at Dominican University Oct. 13, which Hulse said was a good experience for the team.
“For us, it was like hey some of the stuff we’ve been talking about that we need to get better at,” Hulse said. “Can we execute? Are we trying to do the things we need to get better, to get good? Very much process over results this time in the year.”
While it’s still early in preseason, Hulse said he was confident in his team. He talked about how competitive the team was and how several talented players are going to be fighting for rotational spots.
“We have a good core coming back,” Hulse said. “There are some young guys who are going to challenge for some [rotation] spots. Also some guys who have been here for a couple years who are challenging for [rotation] spots. We always say it’s a meritocracy, the best guy is going to play at every spot.”
Loyola is set to have another exhibition tournament at Purdue University Fort Wayne Nov. 10 before their Maroon and Gold scrimmage at Gentile Arena Nov. 16. The Ramblers are scheduled to open the regular season Jan. 4 against University of California, Irvine.