Four members of the No. 12 Loyola men’s volleyball team earned all-conference accolades April 13. The awards were announced ahead of the 2017 Midwest Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (MIVA) tournament. The four Ramblers honored were junior middle blocker Jeff Jendryk, junior opposite Ben Plaisted, sophomore outside hitter Collin Mahan and first-year setter Ian Cowen.
Jendryk earned first-team all-MIVA honors for the second time in his Loyola career. The third-year player from Wheaton, Illinois averaged 1.19 blocks per set this season — good for sixth in the country. He also had the nation’s highest hitting percentage at .445.
Plaisted and Mahan both earned second-team all-MIVA honors. The award is a first for both players. Plaisted, a native of Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, is coming off his best season, where he led the team in kills per set (3.13) and service aces per set (.23). Plaisted has recorded 10 or more kills in 17 straight games.
Mahan was an all-MIVA honorable mention last year, but this season is the first on the second-team. The Victor, New York, native holds the team’s highest digs per set average (1.58) and averages 2.27 kills per set.
Cowen earned a spot on the all-Freshman team. Cowen, from Hiliard, Ohio, started in every game this season and led the team with 9.21 assists per set.
Head coach Mark Hulse said while it’s nice to see players recognized for their efforts and achievemnts, the four players — and the rest of the team — have loftier goals than personal recognition.
“I think every single guy would rather have a conference tournament [championship] than be the conference player of the year,” said Hulse. “It’s hard to do it by yourself in volleyball and so you realize pretty quickly that the ‘we’ is more important than the ‘me.’ I know that every one of those guys would rather have all of us holding a trophy than a few of us holding a certificate.”
The team is set to begin MIVA tournament play on April 15 against Ball State University. The Ramblers hold the fifth seed in the tournament, while the Cardinals sit one above them at fourth. The Ramblers are aiming to make it to their third NCAA national tournament in four years, and their third national championship in that same span.