The last non-conference match of the year for volleyball mirrored their entire season: close, but not quite close enough.
The Maroons (1219) won two close games to force the tiebreaker but were unable to overcome Carthage (285), falling 32 on the road to end the regular season on a down note. The 23rd-ranked Redmen were able to overcome a solid performance from second-year middle hitter Koryn Kendall, who led the team with 13 kills.
Continuing a recent trend of strong showings against quality opponents, Chicago started well and grabbed the first game by a close score of 3028. While Carthage bounced back to take the next two 3024 and 3021, the Maroons refused to go quietly, stepping up for a 3026 win in the fourth to stay alive. The team had a .351 hitting percentage in that game, their highest of the match.
Weve been playing up and down all season. When we won the first game, the momentum carried over, said second-year outside hitter Allison Mell. We didnt take a beating in any game. We went with them point for point.
However, an upset was not in the cards. The team only recorded three kills in the tiebreaker, falling 157.
It flew by so quickly that we didnt really know what was going on, Mell said. We didnt really realize what was happening. Its the same problem weve had all season, where were just not closing.
Kendall was one of three players who scored double-digit kills on the afternoon, along with fourth-years outside hitter Katie Meinhover and right-side hitter Erica Pettke, who each had 11. The teams defense also helped keep them in the match, as Meinhover, Pettke, fourth-year defensive specialist Rose Kulczycki, second-year outside hitter Allison Mell, and first-year outside hitter Katie Volzer all recorded 10 or more digs.
Only the UAA Championships remain for the team, whose surprising 31 showing at the second round robin weekend October 15 and 16 won them the fifth seed in the tournament. They will face nationally top-ranked Washington U (290) fourth-seeded Carnegie Mellon (1715) and last-place Case Western (328) on Friday. Depending on their results, they will either advance to the top bracket to compete for the top four spots in the league standings or be relegated to fight it out for fifth place on Saturday. Two wins on the first day would guarantee them their best finish since 1996.
We did a lot of good things in this match, and the level of play from everyone has been up over the past few weeks. Were feeling extremely confident for this weekend, and we know what we need to do. Were definitely going to go after Carnegie Mellon for fourth place, Mell said.