After defeating No. 7 Ball State University 3-0 April 7, the No. 11 Loyola men’s volleyball team fell 3-0 to Ohio State University on Senior Night at Gentile Arena April 9. The last time the Ramblers faced off against the Buckeyes, Ohio State was ranked at No. 14 and Loyola took the match 3-2 Feb. 17.
The Ramblers came into the matchup tied with Ball State for first place in the MIVA with a conference record of 11-2. With a loss to end its season, Loyola was forced to give up hope of being the sole holder of a regular season title — and with Ball State’s win over Purdue University Fort Wayne April 9, the Ramblers take second in the regular season and the upcoming conference tournament.
Redshirt junior outside hitter Cole Schlothauer and redshirt first-year outside hitter Parker Van Buren led the Ramblers in kills with eight each, and Schlothauer also led in hitting accuracy with .444. Redshirt junior outside hitter Andrew Lyons also led the team in blocks with six.
Loyola head coach Mark Hulse said he was disappointed in the result and said he credited Ohio State’s performance in the match.
“We weren’t good enough, that’s for sure,” Hulse said. “Thought [the Buckeyes] were pretty sharp, but they’ve been sharp. They’ve been good, we knew who they were and we knew they were real physical.”
Loyola was down to start the match, trailing the Buckeyes 5-1 by the first timeout with its only point coming from an Ohio State attack error. The Ramblers continued trailing but slowly increased their points until the score reached 8-4.
The Maroon and Gold finally managed to decrease the point gap down to two thanks to back-to-back kills by Van Buren to make the score 10-8. Loyola kept closing in, with a kill from Lyons bringing the Ramblers within one point.
The Ramblers continued to stay within one to three points of the Buckeyes, but it didn’t last forever. On a 4-0 run to end the set, Ohio State took the first one 25-17.
The second set began with a 2-0 score for Loyola, but the Buckeyes were quick to tie the score at three. However, a service error from Ohio State’s Cole Young momentarily gave Loyola its lead back.
The score stayed close through the beginning of the set — with three total ties — before the Buckeyes pulled away with their biggest lead of the second set and a score of 11-7. Ohio State continued to power past the Ramblers until the score read 14-8 with a six-point lead for the visitors.
With a point margin of seven heading back from a timeout, Ohio State came back to increase its score to 20-12. Loyola was unable to come back from the deficit and the second set went to the Buckeyes with the same score of 25-17 for a match score of 2-0.
By this point in the game, Ohio State had notched 33 kills compared to Loyola’s 18. The Buckeyes were also hitting .426 while the Ramblers were only at .222. Schlothauer led the Ramblers in kills with six and Ohio State’s Jacob Pasteur led the game with 10.
The third set began with a tie at one point and it was another close start for the Ramblers — the teams proceeded to tie at every point until Ohio State pulled ahead to 15-9 on a 6-0 run. The scoring run was ended due to a service error by Pasteur.
In the last part of the match, Loyola managed two 3-0 scoring runs, offset by a 3-0 from Ohio State. However, it wasn’t enough for the Ramblers as the Buckeyes took the set 21-25 and finished the match with a 3-0 sweep.
Redshirt senior setter Garrett Zolg said Ohio State was serving well against the Ramblers, and it was hard for them to come back from behind. The visitors tallied six service aces while Loyola finished with none.
“When [the Buckeyes] got a nice cushion and a nice lead, it kind of gives them confidence to keep having some more miles per hour,” Zolg said. “Our focus is really going to be trying to keep our energy high and really start that game strong, and if we get punched we gotta make sure we punch back.”
Heading into the tournament, redshirt senior outside hitter Henry Payne said his biggest takeaway from the regular season is not to “count anyone out.”
“Everyone can compete with everyone,” Payne said. “And to not take any opponent lightly.”
The No. 2-seeded Ramblers will host No. 7-seeded Lindenwood University at Gentile Arena April 16. Time and broadcast information have yet to be announced.