All-American outside attacker Thomas Jaeschke made sure the sold-out home crowd didn’t leave Gentile Arena disappointed.
Jaeschke had a match-high 24 kills as Loyola defeated Penn State 25-20, 22-25, 25-21, 18-25, 15-11 in front of 4,435 fans at the NCAA Tournament semifinals on Thursday in Chicago.
Jaeschke, the 2014 MIVA Player of the Year, had the majority of his kills come in the opening two games and help Loyola out-hit Penn State .314 to .259 in the match. The senior was also one of two Loyola players with double-digit kills in the victory with outside attacker Cody Caldwell adding 15 kills.
Along with his offensive performance, Jaeschke added an ace and 13 digs in the victory.
Despite Loyola having 21 service errors to Penn State’s 11, both teams finished the match with five aces. Loyola outside attacker Joseph Smalzer, the 2014 Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. National Server of the Year, also finished with a match-high two aces.
All-EIVA opposite Nick Goodell in the loss had a team-high 18 kills. In addition, the Russell brothers, Peter Russell and Aaron Ruseel, both finished with more than 15 kills.
Penn State in the decisive fifth game was held a match-high worst negative-.071 attack percentage. That performance also followed the team hitting more than .500 in the fourth game to force fifth game.
Loyola in the third game never trailed and had a match-best .411 attack percentage. Middle attacker Nicholas Olson also had a game-high five kills and zero attack errors in the game.
Penn State in the second game rallied from an early 7-2 deficit to win the game and tied the match at 1-1. In addition, Goodell had a team-high five kills, including a two late-game kills.
Caldwell in the opening gam led all players with seven kills as Loyola had a .410 attack percentage.
With this victory, the Ramblers wins their first NCAA Tournament match in program history. Loyola will now advance to the NCAA Tournament championship match against Stanford, which defeated BYU in five games in the other semifinal.
This was the first time in the history of the NCAA Tournament that both semifinal matches went to a fifth game.
Loyola is also attempting to become the first host school to win a national championship since Stanford did it in 2010.
This was the fourth consecutive season that Penn State lost in the NCAA Tournament semifinals. The loss now also ties Penn State with Ball State for the most all-time losses in NCAA Tournament history at 29.