Loyola opposite hitter Joe Smalzer no longer has a chip on his shoulder about being an underdog.
California schools have long dominated men’s volleyball, while only a few other schools have won a national title. Top-seeded Loyola joined the elite group, beating third-seeded Stanford 3-1 on Saturday night for the Ramblers’ first NCAA men’s volleyball title.
‘‘We show it by how we play,’’ Smalzer said. “We were ranked No. 1, I think, all but two or three weeks this year. For all the people that are hating on us, look at the scores. Look at the wins. Look at our record.’’
Schools west of the Rockies have won 40 of the 45 NCAA titles. Penn State won two and Ohio State one. Lewis’ 2003 title was vacated because of player eligibility issues.
‘‘Before this year, we had never been ranked higher than seventh or eighth,’’ libero Peter Jasaitis said. ‘‘For us to put this together, not just make a Cinderella run at the end, but really be consistent all year, work hard all year, stay focused all year on and off the court, you can’t help but be proud about it.’’
Cody Caldwell had 20 kills and Thomas Jaeschke and Smalzer each had 12 for Loyola (29-1), which won the final set 25-15. The Ramblers won their final 27 matches after losing to USC on Jan. 4.
Brian Cook had 15 kills for Stanford (24-9), and Steven Irvin added 10. The Cardinal, the national champion in 1997 and 2010, are 3-1 overall against Loyola.
Loyola hit .452 to Stanford’s .266. The Ramblers hit .696 to win the first set 25-17. After Stanford hit .444 to take the second set 25-19, coach Shane Davis said he emphasized the Ramblers step up their serving. Loyola hit .500 in the third set to win 25-19 and .400 in the fourth.