The Loyola women’s volleyball team finished the regular season with a 21-10 record — Loyola’s best in 16 years. Three Ramblers earned All-Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) honors for the season, but Loyola lost in the MVC Tournament semifinals to Illinois State University, which ended the season.
The Ramblers earned the No. 2 seed in the MVC Tournament after going 14-4 in MVC play — finishing with the most conference wins in program history.
Against third-seeded Illinois State, the Ramblers lost 3-1, marking the third time Loyola lost to the Redbirds this season. In the MVC Championship, the Redbirds upset the top-seeded University of Northern Iowa 3-0 to advance to the NCAA Tournament.
Despite losing its first game in the MVC Tournament, Loyola surpassed expectations, entering the season after being chosen to finish fifth in the MVC Preseason Poll. Second-year head coach Amanda Berkley guided the improved Ramblers from a 16-14 record last season.
Two years ago — before Berkley’s arrival — Loyola finished with a 5-24 record while going 4-14 in MVC play.
Loyola’s season included the program’s first win over Northwestern University since 2008 and two separate six-game winning streaks during conference play.
Loyola was bolstered by a strong class of first-year players. Four first-years — Addie Barnes, Taylor Venuto, Sarah Murczek and Katie Mather — played in at least 100 of Loyola’s 124 sets this season, highlighted by Barnes who was named the MVC Freshman of the Year.
Barnes was also named to the First Team All-MVC and MVC All-Freshman teams. She led the attack for the Ramblers, finishing with a team-high 371 kills on the season, averaging 2.99 kills per set.
Venuto, a middle hitter, joined Barnes on the First Team All-MVC and MVC All-Freshman teams. She posted 310 total kills, which ranked second on Loyola’s roster.
Redshirt senior middle blocker Heather Kocken was named to the Second Team All-MVC. Kocken was also named to the MVC All-Tournament Team after putting up a team-high 11 kills in the loss to Illinois State.
Barnes, Venuto and Kocken were the only three Ramblers to play in all 124 sets this season. Loyola will be forced to replace Kocken’s production next season, as well as fellow seniors Quinn Spieker, Maddy Moser and Delilah Wolf — all of whom played in at least 119 sets this season.