No. 4 UC Irvine got the best of No. 9 Loyola in a tightly-contested five-set match. The Anteater victory came despite three Ramblers registering double-digit kills and a double-double from senior Will Tischler
Coach Hulse's Thoughts
"It was a tough one. They made some adjustments as the night went on that made it tougher for us [the rest of the way]," head coach Mark Hulse
said. "We were siding-out at a really high level, and our efficiency was super high, in three sets we were well above .300, which early in the year is tricky to do. They made a couple adjustments that made life tough on us, but we'll work on that stuff."
How It Happened
The tightly-contested outcome began as such right out of the shoot. Neither team strung together three consecutive points through the 18-15 mark of the opening set. After a Rambler timeout, Loyola broke the trend and went on a 3-0 run to tie it at 18-18. Later on when Loyola was pushed to set point at 24-22, the team responded with another 3-0 run to go up 25-24 and begin a long stretch of extra action in the opening frame. It took over 30 points to decide a winner, but Garrett Zolg
's one and only kill of the frame inked a 32-30 set one win.
The Maroon and Gold played like world beaters in the second set, running away with it by a score of 25-16. LUC got four kills from Collin Mahan
in the second while the team hit .462 compared to UCI's .043. The Anteaters had the lead at 8-6, but a 6-0 run with Tischler at the service line put them ahead and in charge at 12-8 and never looked back. Loyola got three kills and a block during the 6-0 run that changed the complexion of the stanza.
UC Irvine proved the second set was an outlier and bounced back to return to form. Another high-offensive showcase from the two Top-10 teams saw them trade points to the tune of 29 ties and nine lead changes in the third set. When the two teams dueled to extras, Loyola held off five UCI set points, but the Anteaters avoided a season-opening sweep by claiming the middle stanza, 33-31.
Kills from Kyle Piekarski
, Luke Denton
and Mahan helped pace the Ramblers to an early 8-5 lead in set number four. The lead was later extended to 12-8 thanks to back-to-back UCI errors, forcing them to take a timeout. However, the Anteaters chipped away at the Ramblers lead, most notably a 3-0 run that propelled them in front 19-17. Loyola tied it twice at 19-19 and 20-20, but the Anteaters forced a decisive fifth set with a 25-22 win.
Loyola played catch-up from the opening point, and faced a 6-2 deficit early. The team cut it to 8-4 when the sides swapped benches, and trimmed UCI's lead to one point on multiple occasions. Kills from Tischler and Mahan kept the Ramblers in the game late, but UCI's Joel Schneidmiller's 28th
kill of the evening put an end to any comeback hopes and cemented their own 3-2 comeback win.
A Look at the Numbers
's double-double (15 kills, 12 digs) was the third of his career, the first since Feb. 16, 2018 at Fort Wayne.
picked up his second career match of double-digit kills and registered a career high 20 attempts.
tallied 52 assists, one shy of his career high. He had two matches of 50+ helpers his freshman season.
-The Ramblers had three players with double-digit digs for the first time since Feb. 16, 2018 at Fort Wayne.
No. 9 Loyola looks for win number one on Saturday (Jan. 5) against the North Greenville Crusaders. The Ramblers have never lost to a Conference Carolina opponent, checking in at a perfect 8-0 clip in previous matchups.