Setter Ryan Serrano ran the offense to near perfection when McKendree needed it the most.
Serrano guided the offense to a match-best .667 attack percentage and zero errors in the decisive fifth game as McKendree defeated No. 11 Loyola 28-26, 25-21, 13-25, 22-25, 15-10 on Thursday in Chicago.
Serrano finished with 50 assists and helped McKendree out-hit Loyola .338 to .299. This was the Bearcats’ highest attack percentage in their last 10 matches and more than .050 percentage points above their season average.
McKendree (11-8, 6-3 MIVA) had three players with more than 15 kills en route to the program’s first all-time road win against Loyola (13-7, 7-2 MIVA).
Outside attacker Kevin Schuele had 16 kills on a .464 attack percentage, including having the match-winning kill. Outside attackers Ethan Carroll and Patrick Ross each also led the Bearcats with 17 kills.
Along with their offensive performances, both Serrano and Ross had a team-high 13 digs, while Schuele added 12 digs.
Loyola outside attacker Cole Schlothauer in the loss had a match-high 18 kills and outside attacker Parker Van Buren contributed 17 kills. In addition, middle attacker Andrew Lyons had 10 kills and zero errors on a match-best .625 attack percentage.
Setter Garrett Zolg led all players defensively with 16 digs.
McKendree trailed the final game 2-0 and then went on a 5-0 run that featured three consecutive Loyola attack errors and a setter dump kill from Serrano. The Bearcats led the fifth game by as many as six points as Carroll and Schuele each contributed a game-high three kills.
McKendree in the opening game also rallied from a 12-6 deficit and fought off a game-point before winning in overtime.
Loyola with this loss ended its five-match winning streak and dropped into second place in the MIVA. The team entered the match tied with No. 8/6 Ball State for first place.
McKendree remains in third place and now has a two-match lead on the three teams tied for fourth place.
This was the third consecutive match between the Ramblers and Bearcats that went to a fifth game. Loyola rallied from a two-game deficit to beat McKendree in the MIVA Tournament semifinals last year, and then McKendree overcame its own two-game deficit to defeat Loyola earlier this year for its first win in the series history.