The gym was packed at Gilman on Friday night, as Loyola and Gilman took the floor with the top seed in next week’s volleyball playoffs at stake, and both teams battled as if the game at hand was for the MIAA A Conference championship.

Both contenders played at a high level for close to two hours before the Dons prevailed 25-18, 25-18, 16-25, 29-27.  Gilman roared back in game three when they were on the verge of being swept, and the tenacious Greyhounds had four game-point opportunities in the fourth game, but the Dons hung on.

“One point in that last game would have changed it all,” said Gilman’s Duncan Morgen-Westrock.  “We had the energy. In game three, we stepped it up, and it could have gone either way today.”

Gilman’s Will Dorman said that Loyola did a really good job defending.

“A combination of being a good passing team and a good blocking team, and that’s hard to play against,” said Dorman.

The win gives the Dons (12-1) the top seed in next Wednesday’s semi-finals. They will host Mount Saint Joe at Loyola at 4 p.m. while Calvert Hall (11-2) takes on Gilman at the Hall.

The winners advance to the conference championship on Friday night at Boys Latin. The Greyhounds have made it to the championship game for the last five years in a row, winning in 2008.

Calvert Hall is the defending champion.  Loyola will be trying to win their third title since 2005.  (They won in ’05 and again in ’07).

“Gilman is a great team,” said Loyola coach Tim Baier.  “We could not stop their middles today.”  

Loyola won the first two game handily before the Greyhounds grabbed game three.  The Greyhounds appeared to be on their way to tying the match when they came within two points of a win in game four.

The Dons were down 23-19 when Baeir called a time-out.  From there Loyola rallied to tie the game at 23, and then they fended off four game points to win the match.

Loyola’s Jack Mitchell said the fourth game was all about toughness,  

“We put up good blocks, and they hit around the blocks real well,” said Mitchell, who had six kills and two blocks on the day.

Loyola’s Chris Macon had 12 kills and three blocks, and Ryan Quesenberry added 10 kills.

Macon said that Baier gave the team some good words of advice during the critical time out late in game four.

“Matt (Verderamo) was all over the place, and Jack Mitchell did a great job at the net the whole time,” said the 6-foot-7 Macon.

Verderamo had 18 digs, and setter Dave Marsh had 39 assists for the Dons.

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