Wednesday, 21 February 2024

International Volleyball

NCAA men’s volleyball: UCLA overpowers Loyola; Penn State’s Tait dies

NCAA men's volleyball: UCLA overpowers Loyola; Penn State's Tait dies

Long Beach’s Simon Torwie hits over the LIU block/Jim Wolf photo

Top-ranked UCLA weathered its road trip to frigid Chicago, disappointing a record crowd at Loyola by handily dispatching the No. 10 Ramblers on Saturday night behind red-hot serving and a torrid block.

The Bruins (4-0) needed only 95 minutes to inflict a 25-20, 25-19, 25-19 shellacking on Loyola, which will need to do some serious damage control after falling to 1-5, all of the losses coming against powerhouse programs ranked among the first nine in the AVCA/NVA men’s Division I-II poll. Sent back into the Arctic blast (wind chill on Chicago’s lakefront was around minus-10 degrees) from a packed Gentile Arena were 3,334 fans, the Ramblers’ largest gathering for a regular-season match in history.

Defending NCAA champion UCLA of the MPSF were unaccommodating guests, ripping nine aces (three each by Merrick McHenry, Cooper Robinson and Ethan Camplin) and recording 12 blocks (Guy Genis led with five). After handling No. 15 Lewis in four sets on Thursday night in southwest-suburban Romeoville, the Bruins’ loaded lineup of veteran stars overwhelmed the MIVA’s Ramblers, who gave heavy court time to four freshmen.

UCLA’s athletic front row hamstrung Loyola’s to-go guy, Parker Van Buren, limiting the 6-foot-9 redshirt junior to eight kills against seven errors on 26 swings, an .038 hitting percentage. Its blockers also tossed a blanket over promising 6-6 freshman Daniel Fabikovic, who hit .000 with seven kills and seven errors on 24 attempts. The Ramblers managed just 29 kills over three sets and hit .128 overall. Conversely, the Bruins attacked at .389 efficiency, led by 6-7 junior All-American Ido David (12 kills on 18 errorless swings, .667), who added seven digs and four blocks.

Loyola coach John Hawks, in his second season at the helm of the Chicago school after working as an assistant under UCLA’s John Speraw for seven years, took a glass-half-full approach to his team’s effort against the Bruins. The lone “W” for his Ramblers came in a five-setter at Hawaii, and they also lost to the fourth-ranked Rainbow Warriors, No. 8 Stanford (twice) and No. 9 Brigham Young.

“That’s the level we need to be at consistently,” Hawks said. “We played really well in moments and in spurts. I feel like we’ll figure it out.”

In other highlights over the weekend in nonconference men’s volleyball, Lewis knocked off BYU, Ohio State was extended to five sets on its home court by…

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