The Ramblers were swept 3-0 earning their second loss of the weekend against a ranked opponent.
Women’s Volleyball Drops Second Game in Rambler Invitational to No. 9 Pittsburgh
The Loyola women’s volleyball team wrapped up the Rambler Invitational Sunday with a match against the No. 9 University of Pittsburgh Panthers. The Ramblers were swept 3-0 earning their second loss of the weekend against a ranked opponent.
The Ramblers began Sunday’s match with a starting serve from third-year setter Bree Borum, who also saved the ball on a dive when it came back over the net. The ball went off fourth-year outside hitter Karlie McNabb but was hit out of bounds on the Panthers’ side and resulted in a point for the opposing team.
Loyola used both of their timeouts very early in the first set — one when the score was 0-4 and another when they were down 1-9. Pitt didn’t use any of their timeouts in the first set.
The Panthers showed their relentless blocking abilities throughout the match. In the first set, fifth-year middle blocker Emma Monks came through with a block during an attempted kill by McNabb.
Head coach Amanda Berkley said she was proud of the way the team handled the match.
“It was a very challenging match for us,” Berkley said. “Pitt’s a very good team, very physical, and they also did a good job of not making a lot of mistakes.”
Berkley said she wants the team to work on manufacturing skills and focusing on their blocking abilities, something she said she saw Pitt doing well.
For a moment, the Ramblers seemed to be making a comeback with one kill from Borum closely followed by an ace from McNabb but the sudden spur of rhythm quickly died down.
Pitt continued to build upon their lead with a series of aggressive kills from third-year setter Rachel Fairbanks. Fifth-year middle blocker Chiamaka Nwokolo and first-year outside hitter Blaire Bayless also contributed to the Panthers kill count. Loyola struggled to keep up, fumbling the ball twice at the end of the first set before they could get it over the net. Loyola was outmatched in the first set as they fell 14-25.
The Ramblers started out the second set more aggressive than the first. Right off the bat, fifth-year outside hitter Addie Barnes brought high energy when she narrowly accomplished a kill.
In the next play, third-year defensive specialist Panther Emmy Klika attempted to keep a point alive but the ball dropped before it could cross the middle of the court. The Panthers quickly made up for it with a successful kill by fourth-year outside hitter Valeria Vazquez Gomez who was putting together a strong performance with aggressive kills for her team.
With the scoreboard reading 21-17, first-year right side hitter Olivia Babcock extended her team’s lead with a kill nobody on Loyola’s side could get to.
Borum attempted a kill but ended up hitting Klika square in the jaw with impressive force, knocking her backwards before the ball was hit and saved by another member of the Panthers.
The volley after this was long, and a kill from Barnes led Loyola to tie with the Panthers for the first time all game just before they took a one point lead. However, the lead didn’t last as the Panthers quickly tied it again off a kill by Monks.
Pittsburgh then closed out the set 25-22 putting the Ramblers in a difficult 0-2 deficit.
Loyola began the third set with a healthy rally. The ball passed over the net four times before ultimately resulting in an attempted kill from Babcock which went out of bounds and gave the Ramblers an initial 1-0 lead.
About halfway through the second set there was a chaotic play with a save from Gomez which kept the ball in play. McNabb had an attempted kill but was saved with a dive yet again by Gomez. McNabb attempted another kill but was blocked by Babcock. The block pushed the ball out of bounds leading to a point for the Ramblers.
Rounding out the final play was a diving save from McNabb and then an attempted kill from Babcock with a block from Barnes and fourth-year middle blocker Anna Feldkamp. Loyola lost the third set 16-25.
Borum said she thought teamwork was a vital part of the points they did have throughout Sunday’s match.
“I think we did a really great job this game of just staying together through good and bad,” Borum said. “We got excited for each other and I think sometimes when we produce our energy it’s a really great game. Working together as a team instead of six individuals really helped us stay together, do our roles and give a little more.”
Berkley said she thought the biggest difference between this game and Friday’s match against the University of Tennessee Volunteers was the crowd size.
“I think the energy was definitely different today than it was on Friday,” Berkley said. “That’s something that we as a team have to figure out how to come right in to play even if the environment isn’t as loud as it was on Friday.”
Friday’s game set a new record in attendance with a crowd of 1,115 people — 859 of them students, The Phoenix previously reported.
The Loyola women’s volleyball team will have their next game Friday, Sept. 15 with first serve at 12:00 p.m. against The University of Illinois Chicago in Gentile Arena.
Featured image by Holden Green | The Phoenix