Oct. 16, 2013
BALTIMORE, Md. -
Timely blocking and big runs down the stretch gave the Navy volleyball team a four-set victory over Loyola Wednesday night at Reitz Arena in Baltimore. The Mids (8-10, 4-3 Patriot League) outlasted the Greyhounds (5-15, 2-6), 25-21, 23-25, 25-18, 25-20, in the first Patriot League match between the teams.
"This was an important win for us," said Navy head coach Larry Bock. "A midweek match, on the road against a comparable team in a match we had to have makes this a good win. But we still have a lot of work to do to clean up our game."
Navy slowly edged its way out to an advantage in the middle of the first set. The Mids went on a 7-2 run to build a 17-12 cushion. Loyola crept back to as few as three points at 22-19 when a Katie Sylakowski (Escondido, Calif.) kill and a Sylakowski ace gave the Mids a 24-19 lead. Faye Lukas knocked down a kill before Alex Cassel (Jr., Sandy, Utah) was called for an attack error to slice the margin down to three points at 24-21, but Gaby Smith closed out the frame with a kill.
Loyola took an early 11-6 lead in the second set before Navy cut it down to three points at 14-11. That was followed by a three-point run by the Greyhounds to make the score 17-11 in favor of Loyola. It was still a 20-16 Loyola lead when the Mids tallied the next five points to take a 21-16 advantage. A Navy service error tied the score, then Fortner was blocked by the tandem of Mindy Maloney and Faye Lukas. Maloney promptly teamed up with Simone Reid for a block of Olivia Yeager (So., Lutz, Fla.) to give the Greyhounds a 23-21 lead.
Cassel responded with a kill for the Mids, but then Maloney and Faye Lukas combined for another block of Fortner to take the Greyhounds to set point with a 24-22 lead. Sylakowski posted a kill to stave off the first opportunity for Loyola to clinch the set, but Reid converted the second chance for the Greyhounds with a kill.
Loyola jumped out to a 5-1 lead at the start of the third set. Navy would soon go on a 5-1 run to take a 10-7 lead, the extended its cushion out to eight points at 20-12. The margin between the teams would remain at least six points over the remainder of the set as the Mids took a 2-1 lead.
The fourth set was a see saw affair that began with Navy taking a 5-1 lead at the very beginning of the frame. The Mids still held a 14-10 lead when a 5-0 run by Loyola gave them a 15-14 lead. After a Cassel kill tied the score, the Greyhounds went on a 3-0 run to take an 18-15 advantage. The teams traded sideouts that made the score 20-17 in favor of Loyola.
A Loyola attack error made it a two-point margin and returned the serve to the Mids. J.B. Loomis dropped back to the service line for Navy and she would end up serving out the set. Gaby Smith (Fr., Virginia Beach, Va.) tarted the run with a kill, then Alex Karika (So., Cranberry Township, Pa.) dropped in a kill to tie the score at 20-20. Sylakowski followed with a kill, then Smith knocked down another kill to give the Mids a 22-20 lead. Karika and Sylakowski combined for a block, then a kill by Smith took Navy to match point. Sylakowski would close out the match with a solo block.
"We tend to make the easy things difficult at times," said Bock. "Whoever coined the phrase about not being able to stand prosperity had our team in mind. We play like a young, talented team. It is time we get rid of the young part of that sentence."
Navy hit over .300 in each of the first two sets and ended the night with a mark of .259, while Loyola finished the match hitting .169. This included marks of .100 in the third set and .091 in the fourth set. The Mids totaled seven of their eight blocks in the final two frames to help limit the Loyola offense. Navy also held slight advantages over Loyola in aces (9-8) and digs (62-59).
The Mids used a balanced offense with four players reaching double figures in kills. Pacing the team was Fortner with 12, with Sylakowski adding 11 and both Cassel and Yeager dropping in 10 kills. Alli Graf (Fr., Annapolis, Md.) totaled four aces and a match-high 19 digs, with Loomis snaring 11 digs. Sylakowski notched a team-high six blocks, with Karika contributing five blocks.
An unsung heroine was Maeve Drummey (So., Silver Spring, Md.), who played a solid all-around match in sets three and four.
"Maeve saved the day for us," said Bock. "She did that last year in our match at Bucknell and she did it again tonight."
Mindy Maloney totaled 13 kills on 16 swings for a hitting percentage of .812 to lead Loyola in both categories.
Navy will be home Friday when the Mids play host to American in a 7 p.m. match.