Huge rally lifts UE volleyball to 3-2 win at Loyola


Trailing 14-11 in a decisive fifth set, the University of Evansville volleyball team scored five points in a row to take a 3-2 match victory over Loyola on Friday night inside Gentile Arena.

Pacing the Purple Aces (8-12, 2-6 MVC) was Mildrelis Rodriguez.  She notched 14 kills and 15 digs, her second-consecutive match with at least 14 of each.  Cathy Schreiber notched 11 kills.  Cassie Brooks had 25 digs on the defensive side while Allana McInnis added 32 assists.

Gabi Maciagowski led all players with 21 kills for the Ramblers (1-17, 0-7 MVC).  Three others finished in double figures.

“We have been talking all year about the character and resilience of this team and tonight, that was the key of the win,” UE head coach Manolo Concepcion said.  “Loyola came in aggressive in front of their home crowd, and that shook us for a moment, but were able to keep our composure and patience, even when the score and momentum was in their favor.”

“It was not the prettiest win, but it was by far the most rewarding this year, because of the way it happened,” Concepion added.  “Our girls’ commitment to our system and game plan, along with the teamwork and togetherness that they showed when it mattered the most, helped us push through. It is great to continue to see different people contributing every night. Now, we focus on Valpo tomorrow, who will also be a tough opponent.”

After dropping the opening game by a 25-18 final, UE rallied with two sets in a row.  With the score knotted at 8-8 in the second game, the Aces went on a 7-1 run, capped off by an Adeline Payne kill to go up 15-9.  Loyola fought back, closing the gap to just one at 22-21, but the Aces had the answer, reeling off the final three tallies including a set-winning service ace from Brooks.

The top effort of the night came by the Purple Aces in the third set.  Gabriela Dos Santos did the serving and added an ace as UE scored the opening four tallies.  That opening rally eventually led to a 9-2 lead.  From there, the Aces continued to add to the lead as kills from Rodriguez and Payne made it a 21-10 contest before UE took a 2-1 lead with a 25-14 triumph.

Loyola never gave up as they put together a solid fourth set.  Up 12-10, the Ramblers went on an 8-2 stretch to open up a 20-12 advantage.  Their 8-point lead held strong as they forced a deciding fifth set with a 25-17 decision.

In that frame, Evansville took an early 7-5 lead on back-to-back errors by Loyola.  The Ramblers utilized a rally of their own to retake the lead at 12-9 as Victoria Hodkiewicz capped it off with an ace.  Loyola’s lead reached 14-11 as they looked to clinch the match.  Knowing they needed to score three in a row just to keep the match going, the Aces answered the bell.  Payne and Rodriguez each had kills to cut the gap to 14-13.

Following a Rambler time out, Schreiber made it three kills in a row to tie the score.  From there, the Aces stood strong, forcing a pair of errors to win the match on the strength of a 16-14 win in the fifth set.

Tomorrow, UE will look to make it three in a row with a 7 p.m. contest at Valparaiso.