NCAA: Loyola Chicago Goes Back-To-Back

The Loyola University Chicago Ramblers defeated the Lewis Flyers in a match for the ages 

Jaeschke netted three kills and a block to take the Ramblers to a 15-9 lead. 

But Lewis came back in large part from the strong, physical play of their outside hitters, with Petty scoring a huge pipe hit to make it 13-15. Lewis tied it up at 19 after a series of tough spin serves and rallied from there. 

Lewis ended up winning the first set after a kill from Petty, who ended the set with an astonishing 7 kills. He also hit at a .667 percentage rate as Lewis got rid of early-game jitters to take control.

The second started out more subdued, with teams playing a smarter and more accurate game. But Lewis took an early 9-7 lead, due in large part to high-efficiency attacking and scrappy defense. 

Still Loyola couldn’t seem to find rhythm, with Peter Hutz and Cody Caldwell failing to connect on numerous occasions. But after a 19-14 lead seemed to guarantee Lewis the set, Loyola tied it up at 21-21 on a kill from Cody Caldwell.

Jendryk and Jaeschke closed out the second set with a team block to shut down Petty. They took the set 25-23.

Photo: Phil James

Photo: Phil James

In the third set, Loyola got off to a 7-0 start and controlled play to finish the set with a commanding 25-20 lead. Loyola also started stepping up their blocking game and shut down any hint of offense from the Flyers. Nicolas Olson closed the set off, as the Lewis middles had trouble keeping up with the 6’11” Wisconsin native. 

The Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association has never achieved this much success at a national championship. On top of the 1-2 finish, Thomas Jaeschke was named AVCA men’s player of the year. He also won his second consecutive MIVA player of the year award.

Lewis gained an 15-11 lead but Loyola caught up to tie it at 15-15, in large part because of the middle blocking and Jaeschke, who dominated in the front and back row. At 16-16, Lucas Yanez made a miraculous dive to help put his team up, as Lewis brought their signature scrappiness to the fore. 

After exchanging points up to 23, Loyola went up with a match point, but failed to close the gap as Schmiegelt scored to keep it alive. Geoff Powell, playing better and better as the game went on, aced the Ramblers to take the 4th. 

In the fifth, both teams played neck and neck, with Gevis and Jendryk shutting down Lewis at the net. But with neither team willing to budge,

The two Illinois Universities exhibited a physical style of play, with finesse plays like tips and rolls rarely played by both team’s attackers. 

Yanez saved the game at 14-13 with a desperation tip, and from there on, the teams went back and forth with several match points on each side. Olson thought he had won it with a block at 18-17, but the Ramblers had to leave the court after celebrating prematurely. But at 22-21 Loyola blocked Petty, 

Jaeschke was named tournament MVP, finishing the game with 20 kills three aces and 3 block assists.