MUNCIE, Ind. -- In its first conference match of the 2012 season, No. 13 Loyola-Chicago defeated MIVA opponent Ball State in four sets on Thursday night. Loyola took the match 3-1 (25-18, 16-25, 29-27, 25-23) to improve to a 6-5 overall record (1-0 MIVA), while Ball State fell to 5-3, 0-1.

Loyola opened the first set to a 9-5 lead on a kill from freshman Cody Caldwell. With the score at 9-13, Ball State's Graham McIlvaine notched back-to-back kills to tighten the gap but a service error from Cardinal Kevin Owens halted momentum. Smalzer served up two consecutive aces to extend Loyola's lead to eight (23-15). A third kill from Caldwell gave the Ramblers set point while Mike Bunting finished the game at 25-18 with a kill.

In the second set, Loyola struggled to find the same rhythm as the first, ultimately falling 25-16. Points flew back-and-forth to a 14-14 tie before attack errors by Bunting and Matt Mirick triggered an unraveling. Trailing 19-16, additional Rambler attack errors, along with aggressive blocks from BSU, handed the Cardinals the set victory to even the match at one set apiece.

After being down 13-10 in the third set, Loyola staged a comeback, paced by Smalzer who caught fire to score four of the next five points for the Ramblers, took an 18-17 lead, and forced Ball State to take a timeout. The teams fought to the end, pushing the score to 28-27, before Smalzer capitalized on perfect set from Mirick to notch the final kill.

Ball State and Loyola traded kills and points with neither team able to establish a solid lead early in the fourth set. With the score tied at 13, the Maroon and Gold sprung into a five-point run, paced by three kills from Bunting, and push to 18-13. At the 24-19 mark, Ball State fought off five set points, using its block at the net to force Loyola to execute errors, before Rambler middle Eric Daliege connected for a kill to end the set and the match.

Caldwell and Smalzer paced the Ramblers with 14 and 13 kills, respectively, while Bunting added 12 on the night. Mirick dished out 41 assists and served for a personal-best two aces. Libero Peter Jasaitis gathered 11 digs on the night while Caldwell led at the net with four blocks.