The Loyola men’s volleyball team (1-1) fell to No. 3-ranked Brigham Young University (BYU) Friday night at Gentile Arena 3-1. Junior outside hitter Devin Joslyn led the Ramblers with 11 kills.
Loyola head coach Mark Hulse said playing a highly ranked team like BYU always garners the attention of the team, and helps get the team experience.
“It’s a really good team from BYU,” Hulse said. “We were prepared in the weeks ahead. I don’t think we were looking ahead of last night, but certainly the ones like this stand out on a schedule.”
The Cougars outplayed the Ramblers in the first set, leading the majority of the way en route to a 25-22 win. BYU jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the match.
Loyola bounced back in the second set, winning 25-22 to tie the match 1-1. The Ramblers were boosted by the return of opposite hitter Luke Denton, who missed Loyola’s season-opener against King as well as the opening set against BYU.
Denton is one of three returning starters from last year’s squad along with middle blocker Kyle Piekarski and setter Garrett Zolg. Piekarski is out with a concussion, and Zolg is out indefinitely with an undisclosed injury, according to Loyola Athletics.
The Cougars bounced back in the third set, jumping out to a 13-7 lead. BYU led comfortably the rest of the way, closing out the set 25-22 to take a 2-1 lead in the match.
Loyola failed to keep it close down the stretch in the fourth set. The Ramblers fell in an 18-10 hole and were unable to dig themselves out, losing 25-16 to drop the match 3-1.
Throughout the match, BYU’s attack proved to be too much for Loyola. The Cougars racked up 62 kills compared to Loyola’s 39. Also, the Ramblers struggled with serves, piling up 19 service errors while BYU finished with eight.
Loyola starting libero Taylan Cook left the match after the third set. Cook was being treated on the trainer’s bench on the sideline, but after the game Hulse said it was just fatigue.
The Ramblers have five players who have never played college, but Joslyn said that’s made it fun to play this year.
“I think it’s pretty awesome, everyone coming in kind of brings their own little piece to the puzzle,” Joslyn said. “Everyone has their own little part, their way, and we’re figuring that out.”
BYU entered the season ranked No. 3 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) and was picked to finish first in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation preseason poll out of seven teams.
“We’ll schedule [tough opponents],” Hulse said. “That’s why these guys come to play here because we play high-level teams. I think we did a lot of the same things well last night [against King] as we did well tonight. A little bigger, badder team on the other side of the net makes a difference.”
Loyola entered the season ranked No. 11 in the AVCA preseason poll and were picked to finish third out of eight teams in the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (MIVA).
Next, the Ramblers head out west for a two-game road trip in California. Loyola will take on University of California, San Diego Jan. 9. First serve is scheduled for 9 p.m. CST.