Strong showing in Duhawks’ 1st appearance means bright program future
The Loras College men’s volleyball team earned their No. 4 seed into the MCVL Conference Tournament after going on a 5-0 win streak. At this tournament, teams were playing for a national bid for the NCAA Division Three National Tournament.
“It was awesome to play in my home town again and where the team has a ton of friends and family,” said senior outside-hitter Dylan Ross. “I doubt we win Friday without all the Loras fans showing up. It was the most fun I have had playing volleyball ever.”
In both teams’ first appearance in the MCVL Conference Tournament, Loras College upset the top seed North Central College on Friday, April 13 at Gregory Arena in Naperville, Illinois. The five set thriller went back and forth 25-22, 14-25, 25-21, 18-25, and 15-13. The Duhawks continued their win streak and made history while doing it with their first conference tournament win.
The Duhawks were led by senior outside-hitter Dylan Ross with a total of 20 kills and a hitting percentage of .459. In the fifth set, the Duhawks trailed 8-5 at the crossover, but then went point for point with the Cardinals. Loras was able to catch the North Central at 11, but the Cardinals were able to pull ahead and force a timeout at 11-13 in their favor. Coming out of the timeout, Ross earned his 20th kill of the night and sided out. Junior setter Alfredo Lopez went on a service run surpassing North Central to match point. Junior middle-blocker Leo Peters then closed the door on the Cardinals with a block that sent the players and fans onto the court.
“We knew it was going to be a tight game going into it, and we were ready,” said Ross. “The arena had a ton of energy in it from our fans to the home team’s fans showing up too. It was just a game that everyone knew had to go five sets. Then Leo Peter’s block at the end, I still really can’t believe that it happened. Just how hard this team worked in that game, we deserved the win.”
After the five set thriller over North Central, the Loras College men’s volleyball team’s six game win streak came to an end and was swept by No. 2 Carthage College Red Men on Saturday, April 14. The Duhawks were led by mostly underclassmen. First-year right side-hitter Joe Jendra tallied 11 kills and three blocks which was closely followed by first-year outside-hitter Mihajlo Gomez with nine kills and one block.
“It came on a quick turnaround from the night before. Carthage showed they had been there before and exploited some weaknesses we had,” said Ross. “They proved that they are the No. 2 team in the nation for a reason. It’s incredible experience for us, and we were picked by the coaches poll in the beginning of the season to finish fifth so it was fun to prove them all wrong and finish second in conference”
Lopez and Jendra earned the all-tournament team for their performances this past weekend at the MCVL Conference Tournament. The Loras College men’s volleyball team finishes their season with a 14-11 overall record.