Senior volleyball player Gavin Elliott took a road less traveled to Loyola. A Chicago resident who lives in the North Center neighborhood, he attended St. Clement and is the first in his family to attend Loyola. In Elliott’s second varsity season and first as a starter, the 6-foot-5 middle hitter is one of the team’s top players. In 25 matches, Elliott leads the Ramblers in blocks (61) and hitting percentage (.305) and is third in total kills (72). Off since April 20, Loyola (20-5) plays at St. Ignatius on Tuesday. The Ramblers close out the Catholic Blue schedule May 7 at home against St. Rita. If they win both games, they will earn at least a share of the conference championship for the first time since 2015.
MAROON & GOLD: Let’s start with how you became a Rambler. St. Clement isn’t one of the more common grammar schools that feed into Loyola. How did you make your decision?
GAVIN ELLIOTT: When I visited, everybody was really welcoming and inviting. It was upbeat and positive. I felt like I belonged right away. None of my friends from St. Clement were going there, but I was excited to branch out and meet new people. I felt like it was a place I could grow.
M&G: St. Ignatius is a popular pick among St. Clement students. You play the Wolfpack in Chicago on Tuesday. Does this game mean more to you?
GE: It’s one I’ve looked forward to this year because I didn’t get to play them my first three years. It will be fun. But more than that, it’s one we need to win to win the conference. Even though we beat them already, we can’t overlook them. It’s very important to us to win the conference, and we can’t do that if we lose.
M&G: You’re enjoying a sensational season as a senior and first-year starter. Is it going how you expected?
GE: I believe so. I feel like I’m being productive and playing consistently well. I knew I could come in and contribute because we lost a couple of starters to graduation. I got myself ready to step in. I improved my athleticism and hitting and refined all of the other necessary skills.
M&G: You’re a dominant defensive player at the net. Is blocking your greatest strength?
GE: Definitely. I also think I’m an efficient hitter. I don’t get a lot of opportunities, but I make the most of them. I want to contribute in any way I can.
M&G: What’s more satisfying? A block or a kill?
GE: Absolutely a block. It gets the into the head of the other team and makes them feel like they can’t hit. When we get a block, it helps to rally us and give us momentum.
M&G: Other than being tall and athletic, what makes someone good at blocking?
GE: It’s important to focus on your arms. It’s not about getting them as high as you can. It’s about getting getting them across the net. You don’t want to give a hitter any space.
M&G: What does it mean to you that Loyola alum and Pepperdine University senior Dave Wieczorek (Class of 2014) is one of the best volleyball players in the country.
GE: It’s so cool. We take a lot of pride in that as a program.