McAndrews Personifies Fighting Spirit For Top-Ranked Ramblers

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The Loyola men’s volleyball team made history last season, winning the program’s first NCAA championship, and just the second national title for any sport in school history.

The Rogers Park Ramblers are back at it again this season, ranked number one in the country.

"Every team is bringing out their best game every time they play us," said junior middle hitter Nick Olson.

The target on Loyola's back is as big as their front line. But this team is built to stand in the face of adversity.

"They fight for one another, they're really close. They got each others' back" said head coach Shane Davis.

No one better captures that sense of fight more than redshirt sophomore Owen McAndrews, whom Davis calls the team's "gem." During his junior year of high school at St. Edward in Cleveland, Ohio, doctors diagnosed McAndrews with Stage 1 Testicular Cancer.

"It's definitely a reality check," McAndrews said. "You think 'you're a teen, you're invincible,' but in reality you're not. It can happen to anyone. I'm always open about it. It's definitely an eye-opening experience. It helped me take things as they come to you on and off the court."

McAndrews hit back at the disease, winning Ohio's Volleyball Player of the Year honors in 2012. McAndrews then got the best news of all--his cancer was in remission. He's now been cancer free for three-and-a-half years.

"He's a guy we've asked to play a lot of different positions since he's been here, he's a cancer survivor, captain," Davis said. "He's becoming 'Mr. Loyola' in a sense."

McAndrews and a former teammate began a "Movember" campaign a few years ago to support men's healthy. Their "ugly mustaches," as McAndrews puts it, have raised more than $15,000.

The Ramblers rallied around their teammate the same way they've rallied together to become the top volleyball team in the country. And if McAndrews and his squad have beaten the odds already, why not once more?

"I feel like we aren't defending a National Championship, we are pursuing another one," Davis said. "It's all about the team getting better every day and being confident and trying to win the next one.

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