The Ramblers led Wheeling for nearly all of the third set Tuesday at Niles North.
But the 14th-seeded Wildcats won the final four points to earn a 25-14, 14-25, 25-22 victory over the third-seeded Ramblers in the Class 4A regional semifinals.
After junior Samantha Downey’s kill gave Loyola (23-13) a 20-17 lead, Wheeling reeled off three in a row to tie it at 20-all. The Ramblers went up by one point two more times, including 22-21 on a combination block by junior Elizabeth Walker and Downey.
But they couldn’t close it out.
The loss snapped a string of four regional titles in a row and the first time in Mark Chang’s six seasons as Loyola’s head coach the Ramblers didn’t advance to a regional final.
The Wildcats won the final 12 points to take the first set. The second set featured a similar ending as the Ramblers, behind the serving of junior Julia Martinez, won 10 of the last 11 points to even the match.
Loyola junior Mary Kate Lopez started the third set with a kill. Another Lopez kill and one by Martinez staked the Ramblers to a 4-1 advantage. Junior Annie Magner’s ace made it 6-2.
The Ramblers later led 7-3, but that was the largest lead they would own.
Loyola played without starter and captain Elizabeth Ford, who injured her left leg.