Women’s Volleyball Falls to No. 9 Tennessee in Home Opener

The game was attended by 1,115 people, a new record for Loyola women’s volleyball.

The Loyola women’s volleyball team was welcomed back to Gentile Arena Friday for the first time this season against the No. 9 ranked University of Tennessee Volunteers. The Ramblers were met with an electric crowd and lost the match one set to three, each being close and hard-fought.

The game was attended by 1,115 people, a new record for Loyola women’s volleyball, according to a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, by the Loyola Ramblers. 

Head coach Amanda Berkley said she was grateful for the energetic student section and the encouragement they gave the team throughout the entire game. 

It was a rough start to the game for the Ramblers when fifth-year outside hitter Jenaisya Moore had two kills in a row, winning points for the Volunteers and pushing Loyola behind. 

The Ramblers gained back their flow with a powerful block from second-year middle blocker Ella Ramsay following a serve from third-year defensive specialist Ashllyn King. However, they lost their flow again with a serve from fifth-year libero Volunteer Yelianiz Torres when nobody on Loyola’s side was there to block, leading to a point for Tennessee. 

The most notable play of the first set was an impressive kill from second-year middle blocker Volunteer Keondreya Granberry following a serve from Rambler Esma Ajanovic which led to a point for Tennessee. 

Halfway through the first set, Tennessee led Loyola 15 – 11. The Volunteers held the lead for the remainder of the first set, beating the Ramblers 25 – 22.

The Volunteers pulled through again in the second set, which ended with a final score of 25 – 20 in favor of Tennessee. 

Towards the end of the second set was a moment of healthy rallying from both teams following a serve from Loyola’s fourth-year outside hitter Karlie McNabb. After her serve, there were a series of dive saves from McNabb which earned the Ramblers a point and pulled them closer to matching the score of the Volunteers. 

Berkley said she thought the team bounced back well in the third set.

“I think in general we played much better defense, and I think we competed well against a really good team,” Berkley said. “Overall this team is very committed and very much a team that wants to win.”

Set three became the first victorious set for the Ramblers, although the two teams remained neck and neck for the first half of the set. 

Following a serve by McNabb, Loyola’s third-year setter Bree Borum swept in and saved the ball twice during one play but ultimately lost it as Tennessee extended their lead.

Loyola took the lead for the first time all game following a kill by fourth-year middle blocker Anna Feldkamp. McNabb pulled through yet again at the end of the third set with two saves in one play, helping the Ramblers win their only set 25 – 23. 

Although the Ramblers held an early lead in set four, the Volunteers took control about halfway through. Despite this lead, there were impressive efforts from Loyola including a great kill from fifth-year outside hitter Addie Barns and a dive from third-year outside hitter Olivia Lovett in an attempt to keep the ball in play. 

McNabb said overall she was very proud of her and her teammates for the way they competed against nationally-ranked Tennessee.

“I feel like it was a really good game for us, there were a lot of good things,” McNabb said. “They’re obviously a pretty talented team but I feel like we had them pretty nervous throughout that which is huge for us.”

McNabb said although she knows the team has some things to clean up before their next match against The University of Pittsburgh on Sunday, she thinks they worked well as a team on the court Friday. 

As the team moves closer to conference play, McNabb emphasized the importance of what she calls composure plays, or the art of staying calm in the midst of a stressful game. 

“No one is going to hand us games, we know that,” McNabb said. “Everyone is going to give us their best game in conference and we got to know that and just be prepared.”

The game was a part of the Rambler Invitational hosted by Loyola. The Loyola women’s volleyball team will host No. 9 University of Pittsburgh for the second half of the Rambler Invitation Sept. 10.

Featured image by Aidan Cahill | The Phoenix

Lilli Malone

Lilli Malone