CHICAGO -- Thomas Jaeschke slammed 19 kills and Cody Caldwell added 18 as No. 1 Loyola Chicago rebounded from an opening-set loss to claim a 3-1 (23-25, 25-20, 25-19, 25-22) win over No. 14 Penn State tonight at Gentile Arena. The Ramblers move to 18-1 with their 16th consecutive victory. Penn State slips to 14-6 with the loss.
For the second consecutive match, Loyola got off to a slow start and its opponent took advantage. An Aaron Russell kill and Loyola error helped Penn State to a 10-7 lead and the guests were able to play from the lead the rest of the set. Loyola pulled within a point on 10 different occasions, including 24-23, but could never get over the hump and a Rambler ball-handling error gave PSU a 25-23, opening-set win. The Ramblers hit just .240 in the set with Jaeschke providing most of the firepower, racking up seven kills in 10 errorless swings.
Two kills from Caldwell helped Loyola to the early lead in the second set but a pair of Russell kills propelled Penn State to a 10-7 advantage. Two more Caldwell put-aways helped the Ramblers claw back and they drew even at 11 on a Joe Smalzer ace. A block from Peter Hutz and Nick Olson gave LU the lead again and the teams traded points until a five-point run, highlighted by a pair of Smalzer kills on overpasses, gave the Ramblers a 21-16 lead. Caldwell had two more kills down the stretch before a Jaeschke kill closed out a 25-20 victory. After recording a single kill in the opening set, Caldwell came alive in set two, ripping nine kills as LU hit .424 in the frame.
Loyola scored the first three points of the third set and opened a 7-3 lead after kills from Caldwell and Jaeschke. The lead grew to five, 13-8, on an Olson solo block and it was an 18-11 game after back-to-back Jaeschke kills. Penn State was able to make a mini-run to get back into the set, getting as close as three (20-17) before the home team closed strong, earning a 25-19 win courtesy of a Caldwell kill.
With the finish line in sight, Loyola scored three of the first four points in the fourth set before Penn State battled back to knot the score at six-all. A kill from Caldwell and a Penn State error gave LU a 12-9 lead and the Ramblers were the first to reach 20, opening a 20-16 lead on another Smalzer ace. Loyola earned itself five match points and a 24-19 lead after an Owen McAndrews kill, and while Penn State was able to kill off three of them, Smalzer made good on the fourth chance to give the Ramblers the win.
After the slow start, Loyola found its offensive rhythm and rebounded to hit .410 for the match.
Jaeschke led the way, tying his career-high with 19 kills (19-2-33, .515) while adding eight digs. Caldwell followed up his 21-kill performance on Tuesday night with another terrific performance, adding 18 kills and seven digs, and McAndrews also reached double figures, hammering 10 kills (10-1-16, .562).