Duhawks split Chicago trip

By Keegan Godwin

The Duhawks started their Chicago road trip by playing the North Park Vikings on Feb 28. The Duhawks started the match off with a big kill from first-year Dorian Fiorenza to give Loras some momentum heading forward. After two aces from Fiorenza, the Duhawks saw themselves up 8-3 against the Vikings. With other big kills from junior Andy Martinez and first-year Jake Filotto, the Duhawks would go on to beat the Vikings 25-16. 

The second set saw Loras off to another hot start by quickly taking a 9-4 lead with kills from senior Ian Walsh and Martinez and a huge block from sophomore Pat Mahoney. However, a comeback from North Park saw the game tied which lead to back-and-forth action for the next ten points. Despite great efforts from the Duhawks, they would lose the second set 23-25. 

The third set started off with a nice kill from first-year Max Ellenbecker off a beautiful set from junior Patrick Hollander. Despite the great start, the Duhawks were unable to create a large gap in the lead which created a back-and-forth atmosphere the entire game. However, with great effort from first-year Joe Horn towards the end of the set, Loras was able to defeat North Park in the third set by a score of 25-21. 

The fourth set saw the Duhawks off to another hot start. By going up four to nothing with kills from Fiorenza and Ellenbecker, North Park was forced to call a timeout. Unfortunately, the Vikings would battle back and bring the game in close once more. With back-and-forth action once again, no team really pulled away in the game creating a tight finish once more. With crucial kills from Horn and Ellenbecker, the Duhawks would defeat the Vikings 25-22 and take the match 3-1. 

Walsh reflected after the match about the biggest challenge to his volleyball career here at Loras. 

“Really, it has been positivity for me”, Walsh said. “I  am very critical of myself in what I do, especially when it comes to volleyball. When I’m able to stop worrying so much about myself, that is when I can spread the most positivity to the team and be there for them.”

Following the North Park match, the Duhawks traveled to battle the #7 Dominican Stars. The first set saw the Duhawks off to a very slow start. The Stars quickly jumped out to a 9-3 lead over Loras. But with a big ace from Walsh, the Duhawks were able to regain their footing and start to climb back. Unfortunately, the Duhawks were unable to manage the Stars the first set with a huge 10-2 run to finish the game. Loras would lose the first set 13-25.

The second set featured some of the best-played volleyball the Duhawks have had all season. Despite a slow start, the Duhawks battled back from an 18-24 deficit. With huge kills from Fiorenza and Ellenbecker alongside huge blocks from Horn and Martinez, the bench and the crowd was fired up. On set point, an outstanding block from Ellenbecker and Martinez saw the Duhawks win the second set 29-27 as the energy was outstanding. 

The third set brought a different story. The Hawks were unable to capitalize on the momentum built from the second set and gave up a few big runs to the Stars. These runs would prove to be too big of a deficit for Loras to come back from, falling 17-25 in the third set. 

In the fourth set, the Duhawks battled hard. With great overall games from the hitters and setter, Horn, Loras battled neck-in-neck with Dominican the whole fourth set. Despite a strong effort, the Duhawks would lose the fourth set 22-25. 

Walsh reflected on the team’s position and current status for this year; “We are, as much as I hate it, kind of a roller coaster. We can be really good but we can also be really average. It stings to lose when you know you’re capable of winning. But it makes me excited because we can review those losses and improve on our game.”

The Duhawks would return home to face Augustana to compete in an ever-important game. The Duhawks, in six years of being a team, have never beaten Augustana. The Duhawks would start the game off by dominating the first set the whole time. Huge kills from Fiorenza and Walsh saw lots of energy throughout the building. Unfortunately, the Duhawks would be unable to capitalize on that energy which led to them losing the next three sets, losing to Augustana 1-3. With the loss, the Duhawks have yet to beat Auggie throughout their program’s history.

Being with the team for four years now, Walsh reflected on how much the program has changed since he was a first-year, ” Coming into the team, it was work hard or you’re not going to do anything… Now, being a senior, being a leader on the team, it’s really different. It’s a good difference… Going from a very upperclassmen team to a very heavy underclassmen team that changes very different because you used to have a lot of guys with experience on the court who knew how things ran and were the ones who set the lifestyle to now having a team that you have to teach the lifestyle you grew up with.”

Walsh would record 17 kills throughout these three games with 2 aces. The Duhawks play North Central at home on Mar 11.

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