Winning streak ends in Windy City

Last weekend, the Loras College men’s volleyball team hit the road. Their winning record carried momentum over North Park University in Chicago, Illinois. Unfortunately, the momentum hit a wall going into Saturday, Feb. 16, having back-to-back five set matches against Marian University and Aurora University.

“We worked really hard during the week,” said head coach Jeremy Thornburg. “We got a great win on Friday, it’s always good to win in three.”

The North Park Vikings didn’t seem to challenge Loras as they swept the team winning by six or more points each set. The Duhawks set the tone from the start with a 10-1 lead over the Vikings, six of which were from a service run from senior right-side hitter Leo Peters.

In addition, the Duhawks had the highest hitting percentage of the season tallying a .391. Loras was able to hold North Park to 17 kills, which gave the Vikings a hitting percentage of .000. Alfredo Lopez tallied 33 assists. This was his eighth match out of 11 where he totaled more than 30 assists.

“Saturday was a tough day,” said Thornburg. “I just don’t think we had everybody clicking on all cylinders.”

Sophomore middle hitter Mihajlo Gomez takes a rip through Augustana’s defense at home on Feb. 3.

The next day, Loras College men’s volleyball had a big day in front of them with two back-to-back five set matches. The first match, Marian University started out hot with a 7-1 lead, eventually carrying that to a 17-12 lead. The Duhawks played catch-up and were able to bring the game within two points. However, Marian was able to close out the first set 24-26.

The Duhawks bounced back, gaining control in the second set with a 6-3 run and then another 9-2 lead to secure a decent lead. Sophomore middle blocker Andres Martinez buried a ball given to him from Lopez, allowing sophomore right-side hitter/setter Patrick Hollander to take a rip from the service line, finishing the second set with an ace.

Marian and Loras battled back and forth in the third set. Ultimately, a momentum swing by sophomore outside-hitter Mihajlo Gomez lead the Duhawks to take the third set 25-22. Marian took control of the fourth set until the Duhawks forced a timeout after going on a 5-1 run. Marian however, came back and rallied four points, taking the fourth set and sending the game to five.

The fifth set was a battle for both teams, with the score being tied 12 separate times. Despite the efforts of Loras, Marian broke away and took the fifth set 17-19. The Duhawks had a quick turnaround to battle against the home team Aurora University.

Lopez started the match by turning an Aurora attack attempt. However, Aurora found their groove afterwards going on a 6-1 run to extend their lead at the start of the match. The Spartans carried the momentum all the way through the match leaving Loras just out of reach 21-25.

The Duhawks started to find their groove again in the second set going on a 5-1 run and a 6-1 run giving Loras the lead which carried the team to take set two. The two teams battled back and forth in the third set, however, Aurora forced a run late in the game giving them the edge to take game three.

Junior middle-blocker Ian Walsh made his presence known in the fourth set, by pounding down two kills that brought momentum to Gomez who finished off the fourth set with an ace. Gomez was still hot from the service line in the beginning of the fifth set, forcing Aurora to take an early timeout. The teams battled back and forth and the score, once again, had more than 10 ties and lead changes. Aurora was able to push out of it and finish the fifth set 14-16.

The team picks back up on Friday, Mar. 1 in the Athletic and Wellness Center against Greenville at 7 p.m. and then take on Fontbonne on Saturday Mar. 2 at 7 p.m. still here at home.

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