CHICAGO (GreenBayPhoenix.com) - Green Bay took sets one and two on Saturday afternoon against the hosts from Loyola, but the Ramblers rallied back to win the next three and hand the Phoenix a heartbreaking 3-2 loss at Gentile Arena in Chicago. Green Bay drops to 9-9 overall and 1-4 in the Horizon League, while Loyola improves to 13-6 and 5-1 in conference play.
The Phoenix, which entered with a five-match winning streak against the Ramblers, earned comeback wins in each of the first two sets and started fast in the deciding fifth set, but it wasn't enough as Loyola prevailed 21-25, 28-30, 25-23, 25-23 15-10 for its fourth straight win.
Green Bay trailed 12-7 and 18-12 in the opening set, but a 6-0 run knotted the score at 18-18, and the Phoenix took its first lead since the early moments at 20-19 after a Loyola attack error. Thanks in part to a pair of Leah Van Zeeland (Kaukauna, Wis.) kills, Green Bay closed with 6-2 run to earn the 25-21 win and move ahead 1-0.
Set two was a similar story, as the Phoenix prevailed 30-28 after falling behind 9-3 in the early going and trailing 21-18 late. Back-to-back kills by Lyndsay Zabkowicz (Oak Creek, Wis.) and Carmen Leitermann (Schofield, Wis.) helped Green Bay even the score at 21-21, and the Phoenix grabbed its first lead since 2-1 at 22-21. Loyola inched back ahead and had three set-point chances (24-23, 25-24 and 27-26), but Green Bay denied each one and regained control, closing out the 30-28 win with another Zabkowicz kill.
Green Bay had its eyes on the sweep in set three, leading 22-20 late, but back-to-back scores by the Ramblers tied things up at 22-22. The home team notched three of the next four points, capped off by a block by Kathleen Vogel, to come away with the 25-23 win.
Loyola built a sizable advantage in the fourth, leading 22-15, but Phoenix didn't go away easily. Green Bay went on an 8-2 run to make it 24-23, but a kill by Nichole Riedel sealed it for the Ramblers with another 25-23 victory.
The Phoenix bolted out to a 4-0 lead in the fifth and final set, causing Loyola to burn a timeout, but the home team regrouped and tied the score at 6-6. Green Bay held an 8-7 edge when the two teams switched sides, but the Ramblers rattled off eight of the next 10 points to win 15-10 and complete the comeback.
Green Bay finished with the advantage in hitting percentage (.187-.134), and out-blocked the Ramblers 17-11. Zabkowicz led all players in the match with 20 kills, hitting .296, while Van Zeeland also reached double-figures in kills with 14. Katie Mroczenski (New Berlin, Wis.) paced the Phoenix front line with a career-high-tying nine blocks, and Brittany Groth (Oak Creek, Wis.) led the back row with a team-high 32 digs.
Reigning Horizon League Offensive Player of the Week Anna Eytchison led three Ramblers players in double-digit kills with 16. Brittany Brown ran the Loyola offense with a match-high 52 assists, while Stephanie Kinane led all players with 33 digs.
After four straight on the road, Green Bay returns to the friendly confines of the Kress Center for a three-match homestand next week, beginning with its final non-conference contest against Chicago State on Tuesday at 7 p.m. The Phoenix then resumes Horizon League competition against Valparaiso on Friday (7 p.m.) and Wright State on Saturday (4 p.m.).
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