CHICAGO -- Dainis Berzins and Joe Smalzer ripped 11 kills apiece as No. 1 Loyola Chicago opened its quest for a second consecutive Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (MIVA) title with a 3-0 (25-10, 25-18, 25-18) sweep of Quincy in a quarterfinal match tonight at Gentile Arena. The Ramblers (25-1) advance to next Wednesday's semifinals where they will face the winner of IPFW/Ohio State. Quincy's season comes to a close with a 13-19 record.
Loyola was in postseason mode from the opening serve, jumping on the Hawks early. Smalzer had two kills as the Ramblers scored four of the first five points and they did not let up. A Cody Caldwell kill made it 8-3 and the home team blew it open later, using a 5-0 run to take a 13-4 advantage and they were never threatened, closing out a 25-10 victory with a Nick Olson ace. Loyola hit .409 in the set and Smalzer led the way with four kills and added two of the Ramblers' four aces.
A kill and an ace from Olson helped Loyola take an early 8-4 lead in the second set but Quincy managed to hang around for a bit, pulling within two (12-10) on a John Pranger kill. Three consecutive LU points made it a five-point lead and the Ramblers were able to pull away from there, as kills from James Zaluski and Smalzer gave them a 25-18 win and a 2-0 lead in the match. Berzins laced four kills in the set to lead the way and Loyola ripped four more aces from the service line.
The Ramblers slowly imposed their will in the third set, taking a 13-9 lead on a block from Caldwell and Olson. It was a 16-10 game after an Olson kill and a Smalzer ace and Quincy would not get closer than four the rest of the way, with a Hawks service error providing the match-clinching point. Berzins' five kills in six swings helped get Loyola to the finish line as the Ramblers hit a solid .386 for the match.
Berzins added four blocks to his 11 kills while Smalzer pitched in with four digs and a pair of aces. Olson posted seven kills and five blocks and Peter Hutz dished out 30 assists while orchestrating the attack.
The Ramblers await the winner of Saturday's IPFW/Ohio State match for a semifinal clash at Gentile Arena on April 23.