The Loyola men’s volleyball team (1-5) couldn’t hang on against No. 1-ranked University of Hawaii Saturday night at Gentile Arena. The Ramblers lost the match 3-1 despite winning the opening set.
Loyola head coach Mark Hulse said he thought his squad played much better than it did last night in a 3-0 loss to No. 14 Pennsylvania State University. But Hulse also said he felt Loyola didn’t capitalize on enough of the opportunities it had against the top-ranked Rainbow Warriors.
“It’s kind of like a mixed bag of emotions,” Hulse said. “On one hand, as a staff, we’re really happy with our response, just the way we played volleyball. … The mixed bag part [is] because execution-wise we weren’t sharp enough.”
Similar to the Penn State game, Loyola played its best volleyball in the opening set. Except this time, the Ramblers managed to take the opening stanza 25-22.
Loyola nearly took a 2-0 lead on the best team in the country, but Hawaii managed to complete the comeback to take the second set 25-23. Hawaii took the third set comfortably by a score of 25-20. In the fourth set, the two squads were back-and-forth until the end when Hawaii edged out a 27-25 victory to defeat Loyola.
Loyola lost the final three sets against Hawaii by a combined nine points. Against the Nittany Lions, Loyola lost the second and third sets by a combined 14 points. Hulse said he was happy with how his team played later in the match against Hawaii.
“Not talking about the x’s and o’s or technical stuff, just the way we competed was night and day different than last night,” Hulse said. “That was kind of the first thing we talked about yesterday or this morning that we needed to do different.”
Despite the turnaround in intensity, sophomore opposite hitter Luke Denton said he didn’t change anything in his approach to the game. Denton finished with 14 kills and a team-high nine digs against the Rainbow Warriors.
“I think you just gotta stick to your routine,” Denton said. “It’s nothing special just because [Hawaii was] ranked No. 1, it’s just a number. … My preparation was no different than it was last night. I just felt good.”
Redshirt freshman Cole Schlothauer led the Ramblers in kills with 16 to go along with six digs.
The No.12-ranked Ramblers fall to 1-5 on the season, but four of the five losses have come against teams ranked in the American Volleyball Coaches Association top-15. Hawaii improves to 7-0 this year. Loyola is just the second team to win a set against the Rainbow Warriors.
Next, the Ramblers are scheduled to welcome the University of Charleston to Gentile Arena Jan. 24 at 7 p.m. on ESPN3.