STANFORD, Calif. -- Loyola Chicago defeated top-seeded Lewis (21-25, 25-23, 25-15, 27-25, 23-21) in a five-set thriller to capture its second consecutive national title on Saturday night. With the win, Loyola becomes just the fourth school in the tournament's 45-year history to win back-to-back NCAA titles. Loyola ends the season with an overall record of 28-2, while Lewis finishes the year at 27-4.
Loyola jumped out to an early 6-1 lead to begin set one, forcing a Lewis timeout. The Ramblers took advantage of four Flyer errors during the stretch, while Thomas Jaeschke and Nicholas Olson each added a service ace. The two teams then traded points behind kills from Jaeschke, Gevis, Jendryk and Caldwell before Lewis scored three unanswered to pull within two and force a Loyola timeout. The teams battled back-and-forth out of the timeout before Lewis rallied to put together another 3-0 run and tie the set at 19-19. The Flyers then scored five of the next six points out of the timeout to take the 24-20 lead, and ultimately went on to win the set 25-21. Lewis racked up a .522 hitting percentage behind 14 kills while holding Loyola to a mere .120.
Loyola began the third set by racing out to an early 6-0 lead, as Gevis fired two kills and Jaeschke added one kill and a service ace, to force a Lewis timeout. Lewis got a block out of the timeout, but back-to-back kills from Olson and Jendryk, followed by a pair of Flyer errors, increased the Rambler lead to 10-1. Loyola continued to build on the lead, ultimately upping the score to 17-8 behind two kills apiece from Jaeschke and Jendryk to force Lewis to use its second and final timeout. After four more kills and two blocks increased the lead to 23-13, kills from Jaeschke and Olson ended set three, 25-15. The Ramblers outhit the Flyers .375 to .067 during the set, with Loyola racking up 16 kills to Lewis's 9.
The two teams traded points to begin set four with Lewis taking a two-point lead until back-to-back Loyola points, a Flyer service error and a Caldwell ace, tied the set at 5-5. After kills from Jaeschke and Jendryk, Caldwell fired two back-to-back to tie the set at 9-9, and a Jaeschke service ace then gave Loyola its first lead of the set. However, Lewis responded by scoring three consecutive points to go up 12-10 and force a Loyola timeout. After trading points, Loyola was able to tie the set at 20-20 with a Flyer error and a Caldwell kill, causing Lewis to call a timeout. Despite a pair of kills from Jaeschke, along with one apiece from Jendryk and Caldwell, Lewis went on to win the set 27-25 with back-to-back points, a block and a service ace, to tie the match at two sets each.
After Loyola scored the first two points of set five, Lewis rallied to score four in a row and take a 4-2 lead, forcing a Rambler timeout. Loyola then scored five of the next seven points, including kills from Olson and Jendryk, along with a Caldwell service ace and a Jendryk/Hutz block, to take a 7-6 lead and cause Lewis to call a timeout. After trading points, Olson scored two in a row, a kill and a shared block with Jaeschke, to give the Ramblers an 11-9 lead and force the Flyers to use their second and final timeout. Jaeschke and Olson stuffed another Flyer attack out of the timeout, and kills from Jaeschke and Caldwell gave the Ramblers the 14-11 advantage. However, Lewis then fought off three match points, rallying behind a pair of kills, a Rambler error and a service ace to take the 15-14 advantage. The Ramblers reached match point three more times behind kills from Jaeschke and Jendryk, but Lewis responded each time, ultimately taking a 19-18 advantage behind back-to-back kills from Geoff Powell. After back-to-back kills gave Loyola the advantage, Lewis scored two in a row to take a 21-20 lead. Cody Caldwell then scored back-to-back points, a kill and a solo block, to put the Ramblers on top 22-21 before combining with Olson and Gevis for the game-winning block.
AVCA Newcomer of the Year Jeff Jendryk was terrific all night, firing 17 kills to go along with a career-high nine blocks en route to earning the tournament's Most Outstanding Player Award. He was joined on the All-Tournament team by Thomas Jaeschke, who fired a team-high 20 kills, and Cody Caldwell, who posted a double-double with 11 kills and 10 digs.
Peter Hutz dished out a match-high 58 assists and added a kill and 14 digs, while Nicholas Olson and Ricky Gevis combined for 17 kills and 16 blocks. Jake Selsky anchored the Rambler defense, totaling 12 digs.