Outside attacker Kyle Wilson as soon as their match-winning tip kill hit the court leaped high into the air and gave an exuberant fist pump.
It was the type of celebration with a depleted McKendree bench in the background storming the court and hugging their teammates that matched the historic moment.
McKendree became the first No. 7 seed in the conference’s history to reach the MIVA Tournament semifinals as it upset the No. 2 seed Loyola 19-25, 25-23, 25-20, 20-25, 15-12 in the quarterfinals on Saturday in Chicago.
The Bearcats trailed 10-8 in the decisive fifth game before going on a 5-0 run that was capped off with a kill from Wilson. Wilson closed out the match with kills on McKendree’s final three points and led all players with five kills in the final game.
Wilson in their postseason debut finished with a career-high 21 kills on a .432 attack percentage.
Along with Wilson, freshman outside attacker Bryce Wetjen led all players with 22 kills and hit .341 against Loyola. Wetjen also had back-to-back kills to jumpstart the Bearcats’ 5-0 run in the final game.
This victory ended McKendree’s 10-match losing streak that dated back to February and included two regular-season losses to Loyola. In addition, the win marks the fourth time the Bearcats in their program history have reached the MIVA Tournament semifinals.
Loyola suffered the upset loss despite out-hitting McKendree .415 to .333 and having more than .600 attack percentage in two of the games. The offensive performance was the first time in more than five years that the Ramblers hit more than .400 in a match and lost.
Opposite Parker Van Buren in the loss led the Ramblers with 21 kills on a .526 attack percentage. Outside attacker Cole Schlothauer also had 16 kills and hit .333, while middle attacker Jimmy Meinhart contributed seven kills on a team-best .545 attack percentage.
Meinhart was one of three Ramblers with a match-high four blocks as Loyola out-blocked McKendree 9 to 2.
This is the second consecutive year the Ramblers have suffered a postseason home loss to a lower-seed. Loyola last season lost to the No. 6 seed Purdue Fort Wayne in the MIVA Tournament semifinals.
McKendree with this victory will advance to play the No. 3 seed Ohio State in the MIVA Tournament semifinals on Wednesday. Ohio State swept Lindenwood in its MIVA Tournament quarterfinals match on Saturday.
Ohio State defeated McKendree in both regular season meetings.