The Final Four is Thursday night with the national championship at 7 p.m. Saturday. For the first time, the NCAA invited two teams to participate in games against the third and fourth seeds.
Ramblers senior Joe Smalzer has been a big impact player all four years with the team. The 6-foot-8-inch Palos Heights resident and Marist graduate, who has been recognized for Midwest and national honors during his career, leads the team with 291 kills and 62 aces. He has accounted for a team-high 385 points during this campaign.
He has helped the Ramblers to a 27-1 mark, which includes a 25-match winning streak. The team's lone loss was Jan 4 to USC.
The Ramblers beat Lewis three times and Penn State once. The team had not faced Stanford, the No. 3 seed, this year.
Orland Park native and former Providence Catholic standout Denny Falls has contributed to Stanford's cause. The 6-foot-7-inch Falls has 60 kills, nine assists, 13 digs and 48 blocks for the Cardinal, which entered the final six with a 22-8 mark.
Lewis University lost to Loyola Saturday night in the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association championship in Chicago but was able to get one of the two wild card spots and was seeded fourth.
Two former Sandburg standouts are on the Flyers' roster this season. Sophomore Scott Fifer, a backup setter, appeared in nine matches and has 170 assists. Freshman hitter John Hodul played in three matches and pounded down four kills.