The Loyola men’s volleyball team (5-10, 2-3) dropped to 2-3 in Midwest Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (MIVA) play after losing to Ball State University in a tight five-set match at Gentile Arena Saturday night.
“It’s sour … [we did] some things well enough to win maybe a couple of sets, but we just weren’t that sharp,” Loyola head coach Mark Hulse said after the loss. “This game made it apparent what we have to do to get a little better and be a little tougher.”
Loyola shot out to a quick 2-0 set lead over Ball State after 25-23 and 26-24 victories in the first two frames. While Loyola grabbed the lead early in the first set and never looked back, they had to rally late to steal the second set from the Cardinals.
The Ramblers struggled early in the third set, and a late push wasn’t enough as they fell 25-22. Loyola played well in the fourth, but gave up a 15-10 cushion. Ball State was able to rally and send the game to a fifth set, which it won 15-8.
Despite two players tallying double-digit kills, the Ramblers were outgunned on offense all night. Redshirt freshman outside hitter Cole Schlothauer led the Ramblers with 20 kills, while senior middle blocker Kyle Piekarski showed out with 18 of his own. Overall, Loyola trailed Ball State in kills 75-55. Schlothauer said he and Piekarski fed off each other’s success on the court.
“I’m pushing Kyle all the time, he’s pushing me back,” Schlothauer added. “All of our teammates do a great job of picking each other up … I don’t think it’s just a me and Kyle show.”
Schlothauer was most involved late in the second set, accounting for five of the Rambler’s final 10 points as well as the set-winning kill. He said that while the ball came his way in “crunch time” all his teammates are just as hungry for the opportunity to make crucial plays. Schlothauer currently leads all MIVA players with 210 kills.
After the game, Hulse pointed to the added difficulty of playing from behind in a set. Hulse said that while the team tried to take every game one point at a time, they weren’t helping themselves out by slow starts in the third and fifth sets.
Even after the loss, Hulse remained steady in his MIVA expectations for his squad.
“Tonight informs more wholly what we’ve [already known],” Hulse said. “Our league is going to be really tricky this year. Wins are going to be really hard to come by, and we’ve got to be really sharp to get them.”
Entering the game, Ball State was 9-5 overall and had a 1-2 MIVA record — losses coming from No. 6 Lewis University and No. 14 Purdue University Fort Wayne. Loyola entered play at 2-2.
The Ramblers are next slated to host MIVA opponent McKendree University Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. The game is set to be broadcast on ESPN3.