Inaugural CCIW volleyball action
By Keegan Godwin
On Saturday, the 7-3 Duhawks battled the 7-3 Carthage Redmen at home for a CCIW matchup. This matchup featured a coach-friendship between Loras coach Jeremy Thornburg and Carthage coach JW Keickhefer who played college volleyball together.
The rivalry match began neck-in-neck until a Carthage five-point run saw the matchup break open towards the Redmen’s favor. However, a huge kill by junior Andy Martinez would propel the Duhawks on their own six-point run to bring them right back into the game. Unfortunately, the Redmen would respond with a six-point run that the Duhawks could not come back from, despite kills from first-year Jake Filloto, losing the first set 25-18.
The second set saw the Duhawks off to a hot start with two kills and an ace by first-year Dorian Fiorenza to create momentum for Loras to go on a four-point run. The set would continue to be a battle until a four-point run put the Redmen up by six on the Duhawks. But then a huge assist from junior Patrick Hollander to Fiorenza brought the Duhawks right back into the game. As Carthage pulled ahead, first-year Kevin Kessel’s huge run at the end of the game nearly brought the Duhawks to victory in set two, but they would fall 25-23 to put the Redmen up 2-0.
Heading into set three, Loras seemed to be heading the right direction with an ace to start the game from Hollander. The rivals battled point by point until a four and a five-point run from Carthage put a nail in the coffin for Loras. They were unable to gain the momentum to come back from the 2-0 deficit, resulting in a loss of the third set, 25-15, giving Carthage the 3-0 victory over Loras.
“I felt like we have tons of areas where the potential is exceptional, just takes a couple more practices to get to the level of where we want to be, that just comes with more reps and more experience on the court as a team is such a young team,” said sophomore Pat Mahoney, who added an ace and a kill to his tally.
On Monday, the Duhawks traveled to Milliken University to battle the Big Blue in another conference matchup. Loras was off to a hot start with a kill from Mahoney. The Duhawks and the Big Blue battled back and forth until a huge five-point run from the Duhawks created the momentum needed to take the first set 25-21 against Milliken. The second set saw Loras off to a slow start but with five kills from Martinez and a great performance off the bench from first-year Hayden Castle, the Duhawks defeated the Big Blue 25-16. In the third set, Loras put their foot on the gas and refused to let up. With great performances from first-years Max Ellenbecker and Joe Horn, the Duhawks easily defeated the Big Blue 25-17.
“I thought tonight we started out a little shakey but I thought our middle did a really great job tonight and kept us in the game. I thought when we served aggressively we went on some really good runs but we need to clean things up a little bit and make our game a little better. But overall, we’re showing some promise. We got a lot of people in tonight and they did their job when the got in. I’m very proud of those guys. We’re gonna keep fighting every day our goal is to get better every day and our goal is to play the best volleyball we can,” said coach Thornburg.
The Duhawks improved 8-4 on the season and will play North Park on Feb. 28, and Dominican on Feb. 29.