By: Luke Drase
Coming into Tuesday’s match, both Loyola and St. Francis were looking to end their four game losing streaks. Early deficits in both sets were too much for St. Francis to overcome as Loyola emerged victorious, 25-17, 25-21.
Early on, it looked as though it would be St. Francis’ night. The Spartans had a few early points go their way in set one to make it a 4-1 game, but Loyola rallied right back to go on a seven point run of their own to take the lead 8-4.
St. Francis seemed to settle into the game by managing a few sideouts, however, three straight aces by Loyola libero Angela Pieroni gave the Ramblers a 16-9 lead. Extremely efficient attacking helped Loyola maintain the seven point lead for the rest of set to take it 25-17.
“I thought our communication was really strong tonight and that always helps wake up our entire team,” said Loyola head coach Mark Chang.
“Secondly, our girls have been working hard on bettering the ball and executing when the opportunities are there, especially on transition. So those two things really worked for us tonight, and they showed some good old fashioned toughness.”
Loyola continued to better the ball throughout the early portion of the second set. The Ramblers jumped out to a 7-0 lead through great passing, distribution and attacking.
The setting duo of Anne Martinson and Mary Leineweber kept a very formidable St. Francis block at bay by distributing the ball to all of the Loyola attackers.
That distribution showed up was displayed in the box score, as Julia Martinez led Loyola in kills with just four, but Martinson, Mary Kate Lopez, and Elizabeth Ford followed closely behind, each with three kills of their own.
“I think that says a lot of both our hitters and setters. Our hitters were able to take advantage of the good sets and make good decisions reading where the block was at,” said Coach Chang
“In regards to our setters, I thought they did a great job reading and that always helps set your teammates up for success.”
When Loyola reached a 15-8 advantage, St. Francis started to crawl back into the game by eliminating their errors. Thanks mostly through an excellent match from setter/middle hitter Maddy Wilkens, St. Francis cut the Loyola lead down to just three points at 21-18.
Despite the late run from their opponent, Loyola maintained their composure, and after a clutch kill from Lopez to make it 22-18, the Ramblers calmly closed out the match by taking the second set by a score of 25-21.
Loyola will next play on Thursday, October 5 when they travel to the South Side of Chicago to face De La Salle. St. Francis will look to end their five game losing skid with a home match against St. Ignatius.