Men's Volleyball

Men’s Volleyball Picks up Second Home Win and High Numbers Against NJIT

Sean Hemmersmeier | The PhoenixThe Loyola men's volleyball team celebrates after defeating Urbana at Gentile Arena Jan. 25, 2020.

The Loyola men’s volleyball team (2-2) beat the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) Highlanders 3-1 in a thrilling match on Jan. 15. 

Loyola entered the match coming off its first home game and a win the night before, leaving the team with hours to recover and prepare. Though it was a quick turnaround for the Ramblers, they pushed through to pick up their second win of the season.

“2-2 is way better and 0-2,” Loyola’s head coach Mark Hulse said. “We knew that stylistically [the teams are] pretty different, so we had to kind of wrap our heads around two things. [The win] obviously feels good and a little bit of affirmation for the process we’ve kind of been working through.” 

The Ramblers began their first set with a kill by redshirt senior outside hitter Henry Payne and continued to go neck and neck with the Highlanders for the last minutes in the set. To seal the win, Payne hit his third kill of the night, bringing the Ramblers to a narrow 25-23 finish.

During the match, the Ramblers combined for 46 kills — one higher than their previous match — with sophomore outside hitter Parker Van Buren contributing 15, hitting .407% in the match. 

However, the Ramblers struggled in the next set. After starting the set with a 3-0 scoring run, NJIT quickly caught up after an offensive attack error, giving them the serve. The narrative was similar to the first set — both teams went back and forth with scoring but neither held a substantial lead until NJIT took the second set 25-22. 

Hulse said the struggle was due to serving issues — something he said the team will have to work harder on in the coming days. 

“There was a lot of silence on the bench,” redshirt junior outside hitter Andrew Lyons said after the second set. “We knew we just had to execute better and it wasn’t anything we hadn’t seen before.” 

Following their only set loss of the night, the Ramblers came back with a statement — an 8-0 scoring run to start the third set. Out of the eight points, half were from four back-to-back blocks from Van Buren and Lyons. Payne came in again with the set-winning kill to win the set for the Ramblers 25-16 and set the overall score to 2-1. 

The Ramblers took their time in the fourth and last set of the match to take the lead, but after Van Buren hit back-to-back aces on a 4-0 scoring run, the team got into its groove. The match ended with Van Buren’s 15th kill of the night to give Loyola their second and final win of the weekend. 

Loyola had multiple standout players throughout the night — redshirt senior setter Garrett Zolg totaled 40 assists and contributed three aces while Lyons hit at .444 and put up 11 blocks. 

“[I’m] just super proud of our team mojo and team vibe,” Zolg said. ”We’re doing a lot of stuff just together but for the team and for the team morale, so it was really showing up this weekend.” 

The Ramblers will continue in their four-game homestand on Jan. 21 against Belmont Abbey College. Zolg said this week the team is focused on cracking down in practice and starting the week strong to prepare for their back-to-back matches next weekend. 

First serve is scheduled for 3 p.m. and is set to be broadcast on ESPN+.

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