The blocking game for Loyola stepped up and its hopes at repeating as NCAA champions are still alive.
Middle attacker Nicholas Olson had a match-high seven blocks as the No. 3 seed Loyola swept the No. 2 seed UC Irvine 25-22, 25-19, 25-17 on Thursday in Palo Alto, California to advance to the NCAA Tournament finals.
The Ramblers in the semifinal match out-blocked the MPSF champion Anteaters 10.5 to 4, including having more than half of their blocks in the second game.
Loyola also held UC Irvine to one of its lowest attack percentages of the season at .140. The Anteaters entered the match second in the nation hitting more than .350 this season.
Freshman opposite Ricky Gevis and outside attacker Thomas Jaeschke in the victory each had a team-high nine kills.
The Ramblers finished the match with a .312 attack percentage, including hitting a match-best.400 and having two attack errors in the final game to complete the sweep.
Outside attacker Tamir Hersko in the loss had a match-high 12 kills, while All-American opposite Zack La Cavera added 10 kills.
With this victory, Loyola advances to play in the finals against the winner of the other semifinal match between Lewis and Penn State.
This will be the first NCAA Tournament finals between two non-West Coast school.