Loyola Chicago downs Ohio State to finish perfect conference season
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Thomas Jaeschke tied his career high with 19 kills and Cody Caldwell added 18 as No. 1 Loyola Chicago bounced back from a slow start to knock off Ohio State 3-1 (19-25, 25-21, 25-19, 25-22) on Friday night at St. John Arena. The Ramblers (24-1, 14-0 MIVA) become the first team to successfully navigate the MIVA schedule undefeated since Ohio State in 1998 and the win also snapped Loyola's 10-match losing streak in Columbus. Ohio State closes the regular season at 11-15 (6-8).
"It was a great battle out there tonight and we were able to find a way to win," head coach Shane Davis said. "However, we still are not playing our best and we are going to use this week of practice before the MIVA Championship to get better and be ready for the postseason."
Ohio State came out hot on Senior Night with a Miles Johnson kill putting Loyola in an early 7-2 hole. The Ramblers slowly chipped away, pulling within two (9-7) after a Jaeschke kill and an Ohio State error, but they struggled to settle in and the Buckeyes took advantage. Some uncharacteristically erratic hitting helped OSU open a 20-13 lead and, despite a late rally, the home team took the opening set, 25-19.
The second set was close in the early stages as the teams were tied seven times to get to 9-9. A Joe Smalzer kill and consecutive Ohio State errors gave the Ramblers a bit of breathing room and it was a 17-12 Loyola lead after another OSU error. The Ramblers were first to 20, taking a 20-16 lead on a Jaeschke kill but Ohio State would rally, scoring four of the next five to make it a 21-20 game. Smalzer followed an Ohio State service error with a service ace to make it a three-point margin and a Caldwell kill and a Buckeye error gave LU a 25-21 win to even the match. Caldwell and Jaeschke each ripped five kills in the set to lead the way.
Two Caldwell kills and one from Owen McAndrews staked Loyola to a 3-0 lead in the third set and it was a 10-5 advantage after a solo stuff from Peter Hutz. Ohio State scored the next three points to get back in the set and Loyola's lead was cut to one, 11-10, after a Michael Henchy kill. A Caldwell kill stopped the run and the Ramblers re-opened a five-point lead (15-10) on a Hutz ace. Another four-point run later, capped by a Smalzer ace, made it a 21-14 lead and Loyola would cruise from there, taking a 2-1 lead in the match with a 25-19 win.
The fourth set mirrored the second set, as the teams went back and forth early before kills from Jaeschke and Caldwell helped the visitors to a 10-7 lead. Consecutive kills later from Jaeschke made it a 15-11 lead but a Henchy kill and two blocks helped Ohio State draw even at 17-all. The Buckeyes actually took the lead, 19-18, on a Loyola error but the Ramblers closed strong. Trailing 21-20, a Nick Olson side-out kill made it 21-21 before an error gave LU the lead back. Olson and Jaeschke teamed up for a big block before a Jaeschke put-away gave the Ramblers three match points and a 24-21 lead. Ohio State was able to fend off the first one but Caldwell ended the drama, closing out the match 25-22.
Jaeschke posted six of his 19 kills in the determining fourth set while Caldwell was steady as well, rapping out 18 kills. Smalzer (eight kills, three aces) and Olson (seven kills, three blocks) also contributed to the offensive effort.