Lewis defense overwhelms Loyola to win back-to-back MIVA championships

Photo courtesy of Lewis athletics

In its biggest conference match of the season, No. 4/3 Lewis left zero doubt that it’s one of the best defensive teams in the nation.

Lewis limited No. 10/9 Loyola to a season-low .115 attack percentage en route to a 25-14, 25-22, 25-19 sweep in the MIVA Tournament finals on Saturday in Romeoville, Illinois.

The Flyers out-blocked their in-state rival 9 to 4 with middle attacker TJ Murray and outside attacker Ryan Coenen each having a match-high five blocks. In addition, Lewis held Loyola (15-6, 9-5 MIVA) to less than a .075 attack percentage in each of the first two games.

Lewis (20-2, 12-2 MIVA) entered this postseason match in the nation’s top five with both a .204 opponent attack percentage and a 2.88 blocks per game average.


All-MIVA setter Kevin Kauling had 32 assists and guided the offense to hit .364 as Lewis won their second consecutive MIVA championship and secured a berth to the NCAA Tournament.

Along with his defensive performance, Murray had nine kills and zero errors on a .750 attack percentage. This was the second consecutive match in the MIVA Tournament that Murray had zero attack errors and hit more than .700.

Coenen, the 2021 MIVA Player of the Year, and outside attacker Kyle Bugee each had a match-high 10 kills. Bugee also led all players with three aces against the Ramblers.

Outside attacker Cole Schlothauer in the loss had a team-high nine kills, while opposite Luke Denton added eight kills. Both all-conference players, though, had less than a .125 attack percentage in the program’s second straight loss to Lewis in the MIVA Tournament finals.

This was the third time this month that Flyers defeated the Ramblers. Lewis swept a two-match road series in its regular season finale to secure the conference regular season championship and home court advantage throughout the MIVA Tournament.

Lewis will enter the NCAA Tournament a 12-match winning streak, the longest active winning streak in the nation. The Flyers are projected to be the No. 2 seed and earn a bye to the NCAA Tournament semifinals, according to the latest Off the Block bracketology.