Loyola Finds Rhythm Again in Sweep Over Queens

Men’s volleyball began a two-game series against Queens University March 28, sweeping the Royals.

The Loyola men’s volleyball team hosted the Queens University Royals in the first of a two-game series after their seven-game win streak was snapped in a three-set loss to No. 16 McKendree University March 28. The Ramblers sweeped the Royals in the match Thursday night. 

Third-year redshirt setter Dan Mangun started the evening with a serve before the Royals struck back with a kill by third-year outside hitter Matthew Pilich. Redshirt third-year outside hitter Parker Van Buren answered with a kill before first-year outside hitter Daniel Fabikovic grabbed two more.

First-year Royals outside hitter Shahpar Grant made a kill before Fabikovic rallied with two more in the following plays. Grant tabbed another kill, making it a 4-3 game in favor of Loyola. 

Redshirt third-year middle blocker Nicodemus Meyer grabbed two kills to give Loyola a 6-3 advantage. Van Buren then traded two kills with first-year Queens outside hitter Chance Shampine. Fabikovic caught an ace to give the Ramblers a 9-4 lead.

Shampine registered an ace and a service error leading into the half-set break. Fabikovic then, with his fourth straight kill following Van Buren with his fifth straight kill,  kept Loyola ahead 15-8.

Loyola and Queens both had two kills in succession following the break. After a rally resulted in a Fabikovic kill over the left and an 18-10 Rambler lead, the Royals settled for a timeout. Shampine found a kill out of the break and Mangun set up Meyer for a putback kill.

Fabikovic traded a service fault with third-year Royals outside hitter Albert Warzocha. After first-year opposite hitter Lukas Anderson’s serve, first-year outside hitter Jake Read made a kill and Queens took a timeout, down 21-12.

An ace from Anderson and a kill from Read gave Loyola set point to top off a 6-0 scoring run before fourth-year middle blocker Jimmy Meinhart registered his first kill of the night to give the Ramblers set one 25-13.  

In the second set, Van Buren struck first with a kill before a Mangun service error. Read followed with a kill over the right side of the net before an attack error from Queens gave Loyola a 3-1 opening.

Read registered a service fault before the Royals and Ramblers went back and forth with six straight kills. Another attack error from Queens gave Loyola an eight-point advantage 

A kill by Shampine tied the set at nine after a block from fourth-year Royals middle hitter Stirling Sims. An attack error by Grant followed a solo block from Meinhart to give the Ramblers a 12-9 lead. Shampine and Van Buren traded kills before Van Buren traded service faults with Grant to roll into the half-set break with the Ramblers leading 14-13.

Loyola made five errors and Queens three, as neither team was setting well. After the short drought, Read and Shampine each grabbed a kill and Van Buren followed with a pair. The Royals settled for a timeout, down 21-16.

The Ramblers quickly found rhythm, starting a 3-0 run that sprouted from a Fabikovic kill following a Queen’s attack error. Read made his first ace of the night for set point before a kill from Van Buren, as Loyola went up two sets to none with a 25-17 victory.

Mangun opened the third with a service error before each side scored in point-for-point succession. Read crept ahead for the Ramblers with a kill, giving them a 7-5 edge. Loyola put themselves ahead one point until the half-set break as Anderson registered an ace to put Loyola up 15-14.

The Ramblers and Royals exchanged service faults out of the break before Meinhart found an opening for a kill. Warzocha and Pilch notched back-to-back kills, and Van Buren and Fabikovic echoed with a kill each to continue a competitive set score of 19-18. 

The Ramblers found some late momentum with a kill from Read following a service ace from Meyer to force Queens into a late timeout, down 23-21. Loyola held set point in the following play with a block assist from Meyer and Meinhart. Meyer and Mangun completed the sweep on a 4-0 scoring run 25-22.

“They played hard, made us play, challenged us in some unique ways,” Loyola head coach John Hawks said. “Glad that we got the win and proud of the guys for their perseverance.”

Loyola’s strong service game was evident in their six-team service aces, which put significant pressure on the Royals’ defense. Additionally, Loyola’s solid defensive performance held the Royals to a limited .216 attacking percentage, a testament to their strong blocking and digging.

The Ramblers return to Gentile for their final regular-season matchup April 6 at 5 p.m. against Lewis University. The game can be streamed live on ESPN+.

Featured Image by Megan Dunn | The Phoenix

Christopher J. Henry

Christopher J. Henry