Loyola’s men’s volleyball team (2-2) defeated the Highlanders of the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) 3-1 in a close game on January 15.
Loyola came into the game after his first home game and a win the night before, giving the team hours to recover and prepare. While it was a quick turnaround for the Ramblers, they pushed through to take their second win of the season.
“2-2 is much better and 0-2,” said Loyola head coach Mark Hulse. “We knew that stylistically [the teams are] quite different, so we had to wrap our heads around two things. [The win] obviously feels good and a bit of confirmation for the process we’ve been through.”
The Ramblers started their first set with a kill by red shirt senior outside hitter Henry Payne and continued to go neck and neck with the Highlanders in the final minutes of the set. To seal the win, Payne hit his third kill of the night, bringing the Ramblers to a narrow 25-23 finish.
During the game, the Ramblers racked up 46 kills – one higher than their previous game – with sophomore outside hitter Parker Van Buren contributing 15 and hitting .407% in the game.
However, the Ramblers struggled in the next set. After starting the set with a 3-0 run, NJIT quickly caught up with an offensive foul, giving them the serve. The story was similar to the first set – both teams went back and forth scoring, but neither had a substantial lead until NJIT took the second set 25-22.
Hulse said the battle was due to serving problems – something the team will have to work harder on in the coming days.
“There was a lot of silence on the bench,” said red shirt junior outside hitter Andrew Lyons after the second set. “We knew we just had to perform better and it wasn’t something we hadn’t seen before.”
After their only set loss of the evening, the Ramblers came back with a statement: an 8-0 run to start the third set. Of the eight points, half came from Van Buren and Lyon four blocks in a row. Payne came in again with the set-winning kill to win the set for the Ramblers 25-16 and take the overall score to 2-1.
The Ramblers took their time in the fourth and final set of the game to take the lead, but after Van Buren hit back-to-back aces on a 4-0 scoring run, the team got into its groove. The game ended with Van Buren’s 15th kill of the night to give Loyola their second and final win of the weekend.
Loyola had several standout players throughout the evening – redshirt senior setter Garrett Zolg gave a total of 40 assists and contributed three aces, while Lyons hit .444 to rack up 11 blocks.
“[I’m] just super proud of our team mojo and team vibe,” said Zolg. “We do a lot of things alone together, but for the team and for the team morale, so it really came out this weekend.”
The Ramblers will continue in their four-game homestand against Belmont Abbey College on January 21. Zolg said the team is focused on hard work in training this week and starting the week strong to prepare for their back-to-back games next weekend.
The first service is scheduled for 3 p.m. and will air on ESPN+.
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