Men’s Volleyball Completes Three-Set Sweep of No. 20 McKendree University

The No. 12 Loyola men’s volleyball team swept No. 20 McKendree University to extend its six-game win streak.

The No. 12 Loyola men’s volleyball team swept No. 20 McKendree University March 16 to extend its six-game win streak and improve to 8-3 in conference play. 

First-year outside hitter Daniel Fabikovic opened the evening with the first serve. Fourth-year middle blocker Jimmy Meinhart and first-year outside hitter Jake Read scored a block assist, but McKendree answered with a kill by third-year outside hitter Kevin Schuele.

The Bearcats added two more with a block assist and attack error from the Rambler side, giving them an early 3-1 lead. Read and third-year middle blocker Nicodemus Meyer grabbed a kill before McKendree returned with another kill, tying the set at four. 

Loyola took the lead before a service error from redshirt third-year Parker Van Buren led the Bearcats to a kill in the following play. Loyola went ahead 15-9 as Fabikovic put up a kill, and Meinhart and redshirt third-year setter Dan Mangun constructed a block assist. McKendree had two back-to-back attack errors, leading into the half-set break.

Van Buren and Fabikovic traded two kills with second-year Bearcats outside hitter Sam Hoskin. The momentum shifted to McKendree as two kills and a block assist cut Loyola’s lead to 18-14, forcing the Ramblers into a timeout.

Bearcats’ rhythm continued in the following sequence with three consecutive kills and a Rambler block error. Van Buren registered a kill before tabbing the first ace of the match to put Loyola ahead 22-18. 

A service error, a kill by Loyola and a block and kill from McKendree brought the first set to a competitive close. Loyola grabbed set point through Read and a long-lasting rally to give Loyola a set one win 25-22 with Van Buren’s sixth kill. 

Two kills by each side opened the second set. Loyola went on a 3-0 run after two kills from Van Buren, complementing Meyer’s powerful solo block to give the Ramblers an early 6-4 lead.

Play continued point-for-point until the Ramblers rallied with a kill from Read and Fabikovic, 12-8. First-year McKendree setter Nathan Flayter traded a kill with Read, and Mangun recorded an ace before the half-set break with Loyola ahead 15-9. 

The Ramblers rattled off another 3-0 run with three straight kills from Meinhart before a McKendree timeout.

An attack error from the Bearcats followed the timeout and Read gave Loyola set point with a kill before Mangun soared over the right side of the net to take the second set 25-13, completing a 6-0 run for the Ramblers. 

The third set started close until a Bearcat net violation allowed Van Buren to register a kill, putting Loyola ahead 9-7. An ace by Read before Meyer put up a kill and two more Rambler service errors had McKendree trailing 12-9. 

Second-year Bearcat middle blocker Rolen Lively grabbed a kill before two kills from Meyer and Read closed the margin at 15-12 going into the half-set break.

The remainder of the third set was a neck-and-neck battle between both sides. McKendree hung within one point until Read forced the match between 24 and 22 with a kill over the middle.

Mangun opened the next play with a serve, and a kill from Schuele reflected off the shoulder of second-year libero J.J. Sowa, bringing the Bearcats within one at 24-23, forcing a Loyola timeout.

“I think tonight was a little redemption for how last season ended,” Sowaa said. “It really stung.”

The Bearcats reached set point after Hoskins tabbed an ace, and Read answered with a kill to give the Ramblers set point. 

Mangun set Fabikovic for the dagger kill to win the set 26-24, as the Ramblers completed the sweep and won their sixth straight match.

Loyola head coach John Hawks said it took a complete team effort to win the match after McKendree upset them in the quarterfinals of the MIVA tournament last season.

“We talk about it when guys take swings down the stretch,” Hawks said. “At that point, it’s about trust.” 

Loyola will travel across the state to rematch rival Quincy University March 21, with broadcast information yet to be announced.

Featured image by Lilli Malone | The Phoenix

Christopher J. Henry

Christopher J. Henry