PALO ALTO, Calif. -- Loyola Chicago swept UC Irvine (25-22, 25-19, 25-17) on Thursday night to advance to the NCAA championship match for the second consecutive year. The Ramblers outhit the second-seeded Anteaters .312 to .140 while racking up 10.5 total team blocks to improve to 27-2 on the season. UC Irvine's season comes to an end with a 28-5 record.UC Irvine scored the first three points of the match, but Loyola rallied to score four of the next six behind kills from Thomas Jaeschke, Nicholas Olson and Jeff Jendryk, along with a solo block from Ricky Gevis, to tie the set at 5-5. The Anteaters then responded with a 4-0 run to take a 9-5 lead and force a Rambler timeout.
The two teams traded points out of the timeout until Loyola scored three unanswered, including a kill from Jaeschke and a Peter Hutz service ace, to tie the set at 11-11. The teams then battled back-and-forth before Loyola put together a 3-0 run, an Anteater error followed by a kill from Hutz and a Jendryk service ace, to take a 20-17 lead. After two kills apiece from Jaeschke and Gevis, a Caldwell kill ended the set at 25-20, giving the Ramblers the overall 1-0 lead.
The second set began with the two teams trading points before back-to-back blocks from Jaeschke and Olson gave Loyola a 7-5 lead. The teams then battled back-and-forth, with the Ramblers racking up five kills and two blocks, until Loyola scored three unanswered behind a UC Irvine error, a shared block from Olson and Caldwell and a Jaeschke service ace to take an 18-15 lead and force an Anteater timeout.
Loyola maintained the steady lead before Trevor Novotny entered the game and fired a service ace to up the score to 23-18 and force UC Irvine to call its second and final timeout. Jaeschke gave the Ramblers a 24-19 advantage with a kill before a shared block by Hutz and Olson ended the set, 25-19. The Ramblers racked up seven blocks during the set en route to holding the Anteaters to a .031 hitting percentage.
Loyola took a 10-6 lead to begin the third set, with nine points coming from UC Irvine errors. Hutz and Jaeschke then fired back-to-back kills before a Hutz service ace and a shared block from Olson and Gevis upped the Rambler lead to 14-7.
The Ramblers continued to build on the lead on a kill and a service ace from Jaeschke when three straight kills, including back-to-back shots from Jendryk, made the score 19-10 and forced an Anteater timeout. A kill from Caldwell ultimately ended the set at 25-17, giving the Ramblers the three-set sweep.
Jaeschke and Gevis lead the Ramblers with nine kills apiece, while Olson added three kills to go along with a season-high seven blocks