In its final non-conference home match, the No. 15-ranked Loyola men’s volleyball team (3-5) flew past Urbana University 3-0 at Gentile Arena Saturday night.
Urbana — which is in its first season as a Division I-II men’s volleyball program — didn’t put up much of a challenge in the first two sets as Loyola won 25-12 and 25-16. The third set was more competitive as the Blue Knights kept neck-and-neck with the Ramblers before Loyola pulled away for the 25-19 win to seal the match.
This comes one day after the Ramblers defeated the University of Charleston 3-1 Jan. 24. In that match, Loyola also led 2-0 after the second set and played a close third. But head coach Mark Hulse said he saw some things in the second set against Urbana that helped him prepare his speech during the intermission between the second and third stanzas.
“We told them [during the intermission], ‘It’s a trap,’” Hulse said. “We’re gonna come out and the bad guys are gonna be a little better, so we’ll have to respond, and I thought we were prepared to do that and we did a good job.”
Urbana, located in Urbana, Ohio, entered the match 0-6 and won a combined three sets in those matches. The Blue Knights still haven’t won a match in their inaugural season.
Loyola entered the weekend with a 1-5 record, but Hulse said it’s good to get a couple wins at home before wrapping up non-conference play Feb. 1 after a rough first six matches. Although he said he saw some good things during the losses, he said “that’s all great and grand” but he would’ve liked to come away with some wins.
“We’re not trying to do the sentiments of victory thing too often,” Hulse said. “Definitely good getting a couple in the [win] column before we get on the road for a pretty tough road trip and try to keep it going.”
Junior outside hitter Devin Joslyn led all scorers with 13 kills and senior middle blocker Kyle Piekarski followed close behind with a season-high 12. Urbana first-year outside hitter Jack Brinkman finished with a team-high seven kills for the Blue Knights.
With two games left in the non-conference slate, Joslyn said he thinks the team can use this weekend as a springboard going forward.
“I think it’s a little boost of confidence,” Joslyn said. “I think we played really well, but going forward, as coach said, just the one-match-at-a-time kind of mentality … not focusing on a Saturday match when you’ve got a Friday [match] right in front of you.”
The Ramblers are scheduled to start the road trip with a match at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia Jan. 31 at 6 p.m. CST.