The Loyola women’s volleyball team (8-6) started its conference play with a 3-0 victory over Valparaiso University at Gentile Arena Friday night.
The Ramblers were led by junior middle blocker Elle Van Grinsven and first-year middle hitter Taylor Venuto who each ended the match with 11 kills. Redshirt senior Maddy Moser led the team in digs with 16, and first-year setter Katie Mather led the team in assists with 18.
“I think just having confidence going into the match and just wanting the ball [helped us early on],” Van Grinsven said. “Our consistency all around and playing loose and having fun [helped us get the win].”
Loyola and Valparaiso both came out to a hot start in the first set. A spike by first-year outside hitter Addie Barnes put the Ramblers up 10-8, and Loyola never relinquish the lead. Venuto ended the first set with 5 kills which led the Ramblers and helped them secure a 25-12 win in the opening set.
In the second set, the Ramblers were able to pick up right where they left off in the previous set. Loyola had four blocks in the second set compared to just one block by the Crusaders. The Ramblers went on an 11-5 run and took the second set, going up 2-0 for the match.
The third set came down to the wire, but a huge kill from Barnes put the Ramblers up 23-19. This lead was too much for the Crusaders to overcome, and Loyola won the third set 25-22. The 3-0 victory over Valparaiso was Loyola’s fourth sweep of the season.
Last season, Loyola lost to Valparaiso twice — each time by a score of 3-2. After losing to the Ramblers, Valparaiso falls to 5-10 this season and 0-1 in conference-play. In the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) preseason poll, Loyola came in fifth while Valparaiso came in at seventh out of 10 teams.
Coming off of a 2-1 tournament record in the Chicago Cup, Loyola head coach Amanda Berkley said the team is finally starting to settle into their roles and has found their stride.
“Overall it was a good match, the first two sets especially,” Berkley said. “I think that third set we kind of came back a little bit … we’ve got to find a way to be a lot better [at finishing strong].”
Loyola is scheduled to continue their season Monday, Sept. 30 as they take on Drake University at Gentile Arena. First serve is scheduled for 6 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on ESPN3.