CHICAGO (AP) - Loyola of Chicago coach Shane Davis made sure to congratulate his players on making school history - and save the game critique for later.
Thomas Jaeschke had 24 kills and top-seeded Loyola beat fifth-seeded Penn State 3-2 Thursday night in the NCAA volleyball semifinals.
Third-seeded Stanford beat second-seeded BYU 3-2 in the first semifinal. The championship is Saturday.
Loyola (28-1) won the final set 15-11 to earn its first NCAA tournament victory and extend its winning streak to 26 matches.
“It was all cheers and excitement in the locker room,” Davis said. “I don’t have to tell them they had 21 service errors, and that we barely snuck that win out of Penn State. They know they didn’t play their best and they know they have to get better for Saturday.”
Before they return to practice, the Ramblers enjoyed the win.
“It means a ton to everyone,” Jaeschke said. “It’s great for the program, especially because we’re hosting.”
Loyola hit .314 to Penn State’s .259. Cody Caldwell had 15 kills for Loyola, and Nicholas Olson added 12.
Nick Goodell led Penn State (25-7) with 18 kills.
The Ramblers won the first set 25-20 on .410 hitting. Penn State held Loyola to .179 hitting in the second to win 25-22.
Loyola bounced back to hit .441 and won the third 25-21. Penn State claimed the fourth set 25-18, hitting .526.
“It was fun,” Penn State coach Mark Pavlik said. “It had everything. It had outstanding serving. There were some great rallies, great pursuit.
“It was everything you would want in an NCAA championship match. We even had to coach some.”
In the final set, the teams combined for nine service errors. Loyola hit .167 to Penn State’s negative-.071.
“It felt like nobody wanted to win it,” Davis said. “Everybody was kind of afraid to make a mistake. It became a passive game with a lot of swings and nobody wanting to kill the ball. It was a very emotional match.”