By Kristen Keller
A five-game losing streak put the Loyola University-Chicago Ramblers against a wall. They fell out of the top six rankings in Missouri Valley Conference play and needed a win to regain their spot.
The Ramblers went into Friday night’s matchup against Indiana State knowing the obstacle in front of them, but they came out on top against the Sycamores, winning three sets to one. During the first set, Loyola and Indiana State went back and forth on serve, with both teams chalking up minor errors. It wasn’t until the score was tied 4-4 that the Ramblers took the lead with senior Morgan Gresham at the service line. Going on a six-point serving run, Gresham recorded an ace during her run.
As Gresham helped further the Ramblers’ lead against the Sycamores, junior Quinn Spieker and sophomore Elle Van Grinsven recorded kills to push the team ahead. Junior Delilah Wolf also delivered, contributing a block with Van Grinsven during the run.
After that run, Indiana State’s hope of a comeback diminished. The Ramblers kept the lead, finishing the first set 25-17.
As the second set began, Loyola players picked up right where they left off. Wolf began the match serving, securing an ace on her first attempt of the set.
Wolf wasn’t the only one to play a part in the early lead. Once Spieker found her way to the backcourt, she went on a four-point serving run. The defensive efforts of senior Alex Nunezmade a great save to keep the ball alive for the Ramblers.
Not only was the defense working hard in the back court, but the front court also added to the defense. Senior Gabi Maciagowski and redshirt junior Heather Kocken put up two huge blocks to accelerate the Rambler lead.
Following the run from Spieker, the Sycamores again couldn’t respond to the Ramblers again this set. Loyola took the second set 25-16 heading into the intermission.
Once the third set began, the Ramblers grabbed the lead early. They went on multiple-point runs while Indiana State couldn’t string points together, but that didn’t stop the Sycamores.
Indiana State challenged a call made by the referee, which went in their favor. From there, the Sycamores squeezed their way back into the game, taking the lead for the first time all match.
Although Loyola tried to respond with multiple kills from Spieker, the squad was impotent when trying to make a comeback. The Sycamores won their first set of the match 25-18.
Heading into the fourth set, the match was in the Ramblers’ favor as they were up on Indiana State two sets to one. If Loyola wanted to keep the match from going to a fifth set, they needed to secure the win in this set.
That’s exactly what they did.
With Wolf at the service line, she began the match with a four-point service run to take the lead with the help from Maciagowski and Kocken in the front row.
After that, the Ramblers never looked back.
Loyola kept the lead for the remainder of the match, with Nunez getting two multiple-point serving runs in the mix. These runs, with contributions from the whole Rambler roster, helped Loyola close out the fourth and final set of the match 25-14, beating Indiana State three sets to one.
“I think everyone stepped it up,” Maciagowski said. “Dee [Delilah] could really find everyone today and I think it was a game changer.”
The stat sheet confirmed Maciagowski’s insight. The Ramblers had four players reach double-digit kills in pursuit of the win.
Maciagowski led the Ramblers’ offensive effort with 15 kills, with Spieker following close behind with 14 kills. Van Grinsven and Kocken also made it to the double-digits in kills, notching 13 and 10 respectively.
“If we can have four, five players in double-digit kills, that’s going to be really good for us,” said head coach Amanda Berkley. “If we can continue to spread out the offense, it will make it much more difficult for [the opponent’s] defense to play around.
The Ramblers played Evansville on Saturday, winning that matchup three sets to one. Loyola hits the road this weekend to play Drake and University of Northern Iowa, both of whom are ranked above Loyola.
Berkley and her squad return to play at Gentile Arena on Oct. 29 as they take on Southern Illinois at 6 p.m.
Original breaking news game coverage.
By Kristen Keller
Loyola University-Chicago beat Indiana State Friday night, winning the match three sets to one in this Missouri Valley Conference contest.
The Loyola Ramblers needed a win after hitting a five-game losing streak that got them out of the top six in conference rankings. Following this home match, they moved their way back in, currently tied for the last spot with Missouri State.
Leading the way during the match for the Ramblers was senior opposite Gabi Maciagowski with a season-high of 15 kills and six blocks. Junior outside Quinn Spieker was right behind Maciagowski, earning a double-double for the night with 14 kills and 11 digs. Sophomore Ella Van Grinsven and redshirt junior Heather Kocken also hit the double-digits in kills last night.
“If we can have four, five players in double-digit kills, that’s going to be really good for us,” said head coach Amanda Berkley. “If we can continue to spread out the offense, it will make it much more difficult for [the opponent’s] defense to play around.”
The player in charge of moving the offense around was junior setter Delilah Wolf, who had a season-high of 58 assists on the night. Along with Wolf, senior libero Alex Nunez led the defensive effort with 17 digs.
“I think everyone really stepped it up today,” Maciagowski said. “We really wanted that home win.”
Loyola-Chicago now has a conference record of 4-5 and an overall record of 12-9. The Ramblers have another home match today against Evansville at the Gentile Arena.