The No. 3 Loras College men’s volleyball team’s season reached a close on Friday, April 12 after an unsettling loss to No. 2 Fontbonne University at the MCVL Conference Tournament at the Tarble Arena in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Loras went down in four 26-28 25-23 20-25 23-25 to the Griffins, who continued to take down No. 1 Carthage College and continue their run into the elite 8 in the NCAA national tournament.
Ahead of the 2019 MCVL Conference Tournament, the league announced its 16 selections for its All-Conference Teams, as voted on by the league’s coaches. From Loras, three sophomores were recognized to be part of the All-Conference Team. Those three are sophomore outside hitter Mihajlo Gomez, sophomore right-side hitter Grant Ooms, and sophomore setter Patrick Hollander.
This season marked the first season that the Duhawks had more than two representatives on the All-Conference Team as well as the first year that they were represented on the First-Team. Each of the Loras’ three honorees were selected to the All-MCVL squad for the first time in their careers.
As one of two returning starters from last year’s squad that advanced to the tournament championship, Gomez provided leadership by crafting a season full of dazzling display, resulting in multiple top-five rankings in statistical categories. Gomez led the MCVL in service aces per a set, averaging .69 per set, ranked fourth in kills per set and 14th in attack percentage. In a 3-2 win over Mount St. Joseph, Gomez put away 22 kills, a season best, helping his team clinch a spot in the postseason.
In seven conference matches, Ooms lowest kill total was 11 in a three-set sweep over Olivet. Since that contest, Ooms averaged 16 kills per match, which included 18 against top-ranked and regular season champion, Carthage. In seven of his nine conference matches, Ooms hit over .400 which included back-to-back .500 performances against Olivet and Adrian. Ooms led all players with his 4.28 kills per set average in league play.
Hollander came into the season as the primary backup, but when he was needed, he rose to the occasion with enthusiasm and ensured that the offense didn’t deteriorate. In fact, it was largely in part to Hollander’s execution that Loras set new team records in kills per set (12.96), attack percentage (.295), assists per set (12.04) and assist percentage (.464). Since his take over in March, Hollander recorded at least 26 assists in each of the remaining 10 matches, including 54 in a five-set thriller against Mount St. Joseph.
The program is graduating four seniors, defensive specialist Jeffrey Budz, right-side hitter Leo Peters, outside hitter Jake Chudzik, and middle hitter Austin Kuchenbecker. The seniors are four year athletes who devoted their careers to volleyball here at Loras.
“It feels really great to be part of a program that consistently places in the MCVL Conference Tournament,” said Peters. “I knew going into it that I would be part of the team in it’s growth stage so a lot of the four years, I emphasized on growth. Growth is pretty much the most important thing at my time here at Loras.”
Next year, the volleyball program is hosting the national championships and is planning on playing in that national tournament.
Jon is currently a junior who is double-majoring in Media Studies and Public Relations. He is heavily involved at Loras as a campus photographer, residential adviser, and a sports editor for the school newspaper, The Lorian.