The Loyola women’s volleyball team (20-9, 13-3) fell to Illinois State University 3-1 at Gentile Arena Saturday night. After clinching a top-two finish in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC), the Ramblers lost on senior night.
There are seven players in Loyola’s senior class, including Quinn Spieker, Maddy Moser, Delilah Wolf and Heather Kocken — all of whom played in all four sets against Illinois State. Loyola head coach Amanda Berkley said the senior class deserves credit for the team’s success this season.
“I think the senior class did a really nice job of bringing in these freshmen and kind of showing them what the ‘Loyola way’ is,” Berkley said following the loss. “I’m really proud of them for how they’ve done this season. To go from two seasons ago having a 5-24 record to being in second place is a testament to them and their resiliency.”
This is the Ramblers’ second loss to the Redbirds this season, aftering losing to Illinois State 3-1 at Redbird Arena Oct. 18.
First-year outside hitter Addie Barnes paced the Ramblers with 14 kills and 10 digs — her 16th double-double this season.
Illinois State came out of the gates strong, dominating the first set 25-16. Loyola bounced back and took the second set by a narrow margin of 25-23. However, the Redbirds proved to be too much for the Ramblers as Illinois State won the third and fourth sets to take the match.
Loyola nearly came back in the third set, but lost 27-25. The Redbirds dominated the fourth set, as they led the entire way. Loyola made a late surge to cut its deficit to 22-20, but Illinois State won three straight points to finish off the Ramblers 25-20. Illinois State managed 17 kills in the fourth set compared to Loyola’s nine.
Illinois State’s junior outside hitter Kaylee Martin contributed a game-high 25 kills for the Redbirds. This mark was her second-highest total of the season after she tallied 26 kills in a five-set loss to Dayton University Sept. 21.
“I think we have to continue to get better, and I think next week is going to be really tough with going to Northern Iowa and Drake.”Amanda Berkley, head coach
Berkley said Martin is a dangerous player because she’s able to make plays happen when the game gets chaotic and still find the holes in the defense.
“[Martin] does a good job of getting her feet to the ball and taking a rip at it, even out of system,” Berkley said. “She did a really nice job of moving the ball around and finding the seams.”
With the victory, Illinois State moves into third place in the MVC, one game above Bradley University. The Redbirds are 17-11 on the season and 10-6 in conference play.
Despite the Ramblers already being guaranteed a top-two seed in the conference — and a first round bye in the MVC Tournament — Berkley said she doesn’t think it affected how Loyola played against Illinois State.
“I don’t think [easing up] would be in the players’ DNA,” Berkley said. “I think we have to continue to get better, and I think next week is going to be really tough with going to Northern Iowa and Drake.”
Next, Loyola will travel to Cedar Falls to take on the University of Northern Iowa Nov. 22. The Panthers are in first place in the MVC and will host the MVC Tournament. First serve is scheduled for 6 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on ESPN+.