Loyola upsets No. 6 Ohio State in Five-Set Thriller 

In a nail-biting five sets, men’s volleyball beat Ohio State in their first MIVA match of the season.

The No. 13 Loyola men’s volleyball team returned to Gentile Arena Feb. 9 in their first home MIVA conference match, battling a five-set thriller to take down No. 6 Ohio State University.

To open the match, it wasn’t an ideal start for the Ramblers. The Buckeyes picked up a 3-0 run after two kills and an early ace from redshirt first-year outside hitter Ben Putman. An attack error from first-year outside hitter Daniel Fabikovic sent them into an early timeout down 4-0.

The Ramblers and Buckeyes went point for point until the Ramblers started to pick up some momentum. A diving save from redshirt third-year libero Matt Oakley set up a kill for first-year setter Cole Schobel. In the next play, third-year redshirt outside hitter Parker Van Buren registered a kill to put the set at 7-5.

After back-to-back Buckeye errors, an ace by first-year outside hitter Jake Read brought Loyola within one, down 9-8. 

After many even exchanges, Ohio State began showing momentum following a Loyola service error and two kills from the Buckeyes, going up 16-12.

Loyola called a timeout later in the set down 19-14 after having trouble with their attacking rhythm. Ohio State continued pressure from their service line, with a kill percentage over .500 in set one.

A kill from redshirt first-year opposite hitter Miller Trubey gave Loyola 17, after the Buckeyes found set point behind a kill from third-year middle blocker Cole Young. Ohio State had one more service error before putting Loyola away 25-18 after another kill from Young.

The second set opened with both teams going point for point until Loyola went on a 3-0 scoring run via a kill from fourth-year middle blocker Jimmy Meinhart, a block assist from third-year middle blocker Nicodemus Meyer and an attack error by Ohio State, who went into their first timeout down 12-7.

Loyola took a timeout after a kill from Ohio State followed a service ace to bring them within four, but the Ramblers remained ahead 17-13. 

The Buckeyes crawled back after a service from Loyola was butchered, and a sequence of two kills followed from their backcourt, setting the score at 21-18.

Each side closed the set by trading two attacking errors with set point following Ohio State’s error. Van Buren brought the crowd to their feet with the ample service ace to take the second set 25-20.

The Buckeyes struck first to begin the third set, going on a 4-0 run early after two kills and an attacking and blocking error from the Loyola side. A kill from Meyer put the Ramblers on the board, down 4-1.

A kill from second-year setter Ryan McElligott brought the Ramblers within three down 10-7, but a kill from second-year opposite hitter Shane Wetzel of the Buckeyes — his eighth of the night — followed a failed attack from Loyola who trailed 12-7. 

“I think our service definitely struggled in the first two sets,” McElligott said after the match. “They were putting some heavy pressure on the service line, and I think as the game went on we kind of settled in more and we could dial in those receptions better.”

The Ramblers came out of the timeout with a statement. Three back-to-back kills from Meyer, Read and Fabikovic brought the Ohio State lead down to two as they settled for a timeout at 12-10. 

After a tie was reached at 18, Loyola went on a 4-0 scoring run off of three Ohio State attacking errors and a kill from Fabikovic. The remainder of set three was neck and neck until the final minutes.

Back-to-back kills from Fabikovic gave Loyola a slim 23-22 lead. After the teams traded service errors, the set was tied 24. Redshirt fourth-year middle blocker Justin Howard of Ohio State registered a kill, and Van Buren answered his kill with the eighth tie of the night at 25.

The overtime sequence continued until Ohio State gained an edge with a heroic effort, registering back-to-back kills and an ace to close an exhilarating set three at 29-27.

The fourth set opened with an attack error from Ohio State and an ace from McElligott, then kills from Van Buren and Fabikovic followed by another attack error from the Buckeyes, giving the Ramblers a 5-1 lead early.

Ohio State took a timeout shortly after, down 7-2 after both sides traded a kill. Out of the break, most of the set continued point-for-point, with Loyola a steady six points ahead. The Buckeyes settled for a timeout after a service error followed a kill from Meyer, putting them down 17-10.

The momentum continued in Loyola’s favor, as they went up 21-11 after Van Buren registered a kill followed by an ace in the next play. Ohio State had a 3-0 run to show with a kill and two forced Rambler attack errors to make the score 21-14.

Loyola found set point shortly after a Van Buren kill. A final attack error from the Buckeyes gave Loyola a dominating set four win on a 4-0 run 25-14, forcing the sudden death fifth set.

Set five opened with a statement kill from Van Buren. McElligott followed with two back-to-back aces, forcing an early Buckeye timeout. 

Loyola stayed ahead, registering two more kills to go up 5-0 early before a failed service from the Ramblers gave Ohio State their first point and the serve. 

The Buckeyes took another timeout down 9-2 as they couldn’t stop a competitive Loyola attacking front and struggled with service from their backcourt. 

Ohio State got two kills out of the break before the Ramblers found a match point off a kill from redshirt fourth-year outside hitter Jack Yentz. An involuntary attack error by the Buckeyes closed out the upset 15-5 as Loyola was victorious.

After the match, Loyola head coach John Hawks said he was proud of the team and that the crowd was “awesome.”

“They were loud and energetic and got all our guys going and maybe effecting some of what they were doing,” Hawks said. “So I’m going to convince myself about that awesome energy and just a fantastic gritty win by our guys.” 

Loyola returns to Gentile Arena to host No. 13 Lewis University on Feb. 17 at 7 p.m., with broadcast information yet to be announced.

Featured image by Megan Dunn | The Phoenix

Christopher J. Henry

Christopher J. Henry