At the conclusion of Friday’s practice, Loyola graduate and former Ramblers volleyball player Dave Wieczorek (Class of 2015) was back in the Chicago area after completing a decorated four-year career at Pepperdine University.

According to Loyola head coach Lionel Ebeling, his message centered around belief. 

“He talked about trusting the training, trusting the process,” Ebeling said. “If you do that and compete every day, good things will happen.”

Although the Ramblers lost back-to-back games to end the regular season, they enter the state tournament as the No. 1 seed at the Glenbrook North Sectional. Loyola (26-9) opens the postseason Tuesday at Glenbrook South’s regional against either No. 16 Notre Dame or No. 17 Von Steuben. The winner plays Wednesday in the regional final. 

“We are the top seed for a reason, and we should be confident,” said Ebeling, who’s guided the Ramblers to 11 consecutive seasons with at least 20 wins. 

Loyola’s balanced offense is led by senior outside hitters Henry Clemons and Jack Howard. Senior middle Gavin Elliott and sophomore libero Ryan Merk headline the defense. 

Howard is first on team with 364 kills, while Clemons is second with 243. Elliott leads Ramblers with 83 blocks, and Merk is tops in digs with 45. 

According to Ebeling, players like junior middle Mukthar Abdul, junior right-side hitter Jake Soucheray and junior liberos Troy Bascon-O’Connell and Tommy Dorgan also will be instrumental as the Ramblers try to capture their first sectional championship since 1994. 

“We are a complete team and not overly dependent on anybody,” Ebeling said. “Mukthar’s been someone fun to watch lately, and Jake is our biggest X-factor. He’s a blocking machine. We’re hoping we can get some offense out of him. Tommy and Troy are unsung heroes on the back row.

“If we take care of ourselves, we will be fine. We know what we can do.”