Women’s Volleyball Stumbles Against Western Michigan

Steve Woltmann | Loyola AthleticsJunior middle blocker Elle Van Grinsven serves the ball.

The Loyola women’s volleyball team (3-4) fell to Western Michigan University 3-1 at Gentile Arena Saturday afternoon in the final game of the Rambler Challenge tournament hosted by Loyola. After winning both games in Friday’s doubleheader, Loyola finished with a 2-1 record in the tournament.

First-year outside hitter Addie Barnes led Loyola with 17 kills and also put up six digs. First-year middle hitter Taylor Venuto and redshirt senior middle blocker Heather Kocken also contributed with 12 kills and nine kills, respectively.

“I think there were a lot of good moments in this match,” Loyola head coach Amanda Berkley said. “The second set I thought we served really aggressively and made it a little bit easier on ourselves to score points.”

Loyola fell into a 6-0 hole to start off the match but responded with a 7-0 run to take the lead 7-6. Both teams would trade points for the rest of the set until Western Michigan came through with a 25-21 win in the first set.

Loyola dominated the second set, including going on a 12-2 run, and never relinquished the lead. After two kills from Barnes to close out the set, the Ramblers would take the second set 25-11.

Berkley’s squad couldn’t hold on as Western Michigan took the next two sets. The Broncos never trailed by more than one point in the third set, winning 25-17. The fourth and final set was back-and-forth with neither team able to take a commanding lead. The Broncos held off a late Loyola surge to win the fourth set 25-21.

Following the loss, Berkley said Loyola struggled with Western Michigan’s aggressive serves. The Broncos had 10 service aces — including six in the fourth set — which is the most Loyola has allowed through seven games this season.

“[Western Michigan] served aggressively in sets three and four,” Berkley said. “Our service game broke down.”

First-year outside hitter Maggie King and senior outside hitter Willow Martin led Western Michigan with 12 kills each. The Broncos remain undefeated through their first six games this season, including a perfect 3-0 record in the Rambler Challenge.

Despite the loss, Berkley was proud of the team’s performance after playing their fourth game in three days.

“We did a good job of taking care of [the ball],” Berkley said. “I haven’t noticed a lot of the swinging wild errors out of bounds. I think [the team] was always being aggressive.”

Loyola is next scheduled to play Virginia Tech Sept. 13 as they enter the Amy Svoboda Memorial Classic Tournament in Colorado Springs, Colorado. First serve is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.

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