Defending-champion Loyola-Chicago is again the top-ranked volleyball team in the nation and it showed why Thursday with a 3-0 sweep of No. 9 IPFW at the Gates Center.
"That’s where they play," IPFW coach Arnie Ball said after the 25-19, 25-11, 25-20 loss. "That’s why they’re No. 1. That’s why they’ve beaten BYU and Stanford and everyone else. They get to a lot of balls, and they’re versatile on offense, they serve the ball with some authority.
"Loyola is the reason why Loyola is the No. 1 team in the country. They’re a really good volleyball team, and we didn’t come out ready to play. I guess we have to take that from it, we have to be ready to play all the time."
Loyola’s ability to build momentum and go on scoring runs set it apart.
In the first set, the Ramblers (9-0, 2-0 MIVA) went on a 5-0 run early to set up a 6-2 lead and remained just out of reach.
IPFW (9-3, 3-1) took a 3-1 lead to start the second, but it was short-lived as the Ramblers capitalized on a Mastodons service error that sparked a 4-0 run. Loyola used a 6-1 run to go up 16-6.
"It all comes back to serving and passing," Ball said. "Loyola served the ball very well and passed our serves very well, but we made a lot of errors. It all goes back to that. You have to be able to serve and pass to play a game and our middle attacking was very poor tonight, also."
The Mastodons took a 5-3 lead in the third before Loyola’s 6-1 run put it in control.
"We went down to the locker room (between the second and third sets), and we talked about how they may be the No. 1 team, but we’re the No. 9 team," Andy Sellan said. "We have a lot of great things going for us, too, and we need to focus on things that we do well and not just on things that they do well.
"When we came back out for the third set, we came up with a three-second rule, after the play, we had three seconds to think about it and then move on. We really have to stop their runs from continuing, and it was all about serving and passing and just focusing on our errors and trying to fix them."
Alex Halthaller led the Mastodons with eight kills. Omar Rivera had 22 assists.
Luis Bertran led the defense with nine digs.
"I thought Alex played with a lot of emotion and energy," Ball said. "His passing wasn’t good, but I thought he had that and we have to have that, but it has to come from everybody, not just one person."
Thomas Jaeschke led the Ramblers with 11 kills.
IPFW takes on No. 2 Lewis in Romeoville, Illinois, at 8 p.m. Saturday.
"Lewis is a good team, they’re a different team than Loyola but they have a lot of similar pieces," Sellan said. "It’s going to be more about our mental comeback than our physical."
Note: Between the second and third sets, the men’s and women’s tennis teams were awarded for their grade-point averages, which were highest among IPFW teams. The men averaged a 3.52 GPA, and the women averaged 3.72.