The No. 2-seeded Loyola men’s volleyball team (14-5, 9-5) advanced to the semifinals of the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (MIVA) Tournament after a four-set win over Lindenwood University April 10 at the Alfie Norville Practice Facility.
“We did not play good volleyball by our standards,” Loyola head coach Mark Hulse said. “We were pretty tough and I thought we stuck together and it was good enough.”
With the win, the Ramblers advance to play No. 3-seeded McKendree University in the semifinals. Loyola and McKendree finished tied for second in the standings, but the Ramblers won the tiebreaker and the No. 2 seed after sweeping McKendree during the regular season.
Redshirt sophomore outside hitter Cole Schlothauer and senior outside hitter Devin Joslyn led the Ramblers with 17 kills apiece. Meanwhile, senior setter Garrett Zolg chipped in 45 assists for Loyola. Zolg and Joslyn each had eight digs in the match — tied for the highest in the game.
After the game, Hulse said Joslyn helped fill in for opposite hitter Luke Denton, who barely played due to a non-COVID-19 illness. Denton — along with Zolg and Schlothauer — was named to First Team All-MIVA this season.
“[Joslyn’s] a veteran guy and we put him into the lineup in that position Thursday, so he had about a day and a half to figure out a position I don’t think he’s played since he’s 17 years old,” Hulse said.
Against Lindenwood, Loyola started the match with a service error by Zolg, but the Ramblers bounced back to win the next four points and hold the lead for the remainder of the set. Loyola won the set 25-19, which was tied for the biggest lead during the set.
The second set was closer throughout, with neither team holding a lead of more than four points. Lindenwood once again took the opening point of the set, but the Ramblers jumped out to an early 6-2 lead. Lindenwood remained within striking distance of Loyola for the entire set — including tying the score at 11 and getting within a point of Loyola at multiple other points — but wasn’t able to get over the hump and take the lead.
In the third set, Loyola once again jumped out to an early lead, this time up 6-4. But the Lions responded with a 4-0 run to take a lead they would hold for the majority of the set. Lindenwood’s lead stretched to as much as five points, but Loyola managed to claw back and take a 22-21 lead near the end of the set. However, Lindenwood managed to come out on top, winning the set 26-24 and forcing a fourth set in the match.
The fourth set was another back-and-forth affair down the stretch, but this time, Loyola came out on top. Loyola led by as much as five at one point, up 11-6. But the Lions knotted it up at 11 and it was neck-and-neck the rest of the way, with neither team taking a lead greater than two points. Loyola eventually came out on top 25-23 to take the match 3-1.
“[Lindenwood] made some tactical changes for sure, I don’t suspect they planned on our lineup looking the way it did,” Hulse said about the difference between the first two sets and the last two. “They just slowed us down. But I thought the reason it was competitive was because we were able to slow them down a little bit more. So it became kind of like a defensive, maybe even a little bit of an ugly matchup.”
Loyola is slated to play McKendree in the MIVA Tournament semifinals April 17 at the Alfie Norville Practice Facility. The time and broadcasting information has yet to announced.