Loyola Ramblers` success attributed to hard work, dedication - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

Loyola men`s volleyball success attributed to hard work, dedication

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The Loyola University men's volleyball team could be on their way to a national championship. They're ranked No. 2 in the nation, and they shared their secret to success with Good Day Chicago.

Get ready. It's time for a change. Forget the sunny skies of California, the white sands of Manhattan Beach and the warm breezes of a West Coast summer day.

There's a new threat in the world of men's volleyball, and they're right here in Chicago.

As of the latest NCAA men's volleyball ranking, a sport constantly dominated by West Coast schools, the Loyola Ramblers are second in the nation, biting at the heels of UCLA.

"Hard work. Our work ethic. We come in every day. We were ranked number one, worked hard every day for that," Nicholas Olson said. "Now we're number two, doesn't matter because we'll work just as hard next day."

The team's success wasn't earned overnight. The ramblers have been a national competitor for the past few seasons, though Chicago native Joe Smalzer said their success continues to surprise people - all due to the public's newfound passion for men's volleyball.

"Recently it's grown a lot in the Midwest," Smalzer said. "That transition from the West Coast is awesome to see. Not just us, but other teams around us are growing as teams and as programs. It's really awesome."

Loyola has even been able to lure some talent away from those sunny California skies, including Peter Jasaitis, who says the coaching is what brought him to Chicago.

"Our coaching staff right now is second to none in my opinion," Jasaitis said. "Those guys work well together. They talk about how we show up day in, day out, focused and ready to go. They do just as much work as we do."

The Ramblers' fearless leader, Head Coach Shane Davis, says the NCAA Final Four of men's volleyball, which will be held at Loyola in May, gives the team a unique opportunity for success.

"It's a lot of fun to be able to host an event," Davis said. "We like Chicago, it's great and puts Loyola on that stage."

For now the team plays on, hopefully toward a national championship that could be earned on the own court.

They may not need the sun, the warmth or the sand. But there's one thing they told Good Day Chicago, above all, that they don't need. Standing 5 feet, 10 inches tall, they most definitely don't need Jake Hamilton's help.

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