Squad finishes 1-3 at taxing home tourney

Chicago volleyball defeated Rochester and lost to Emory, Wash U, and Case Western in UAA Round Robin #2.

By Russell Mendelson

The Maroons went 3–0 at the first UAA Round Robin two weeks ago, so heading into the second Round Robin, the South Siders (20–11) were looking to maintain their unblemished conference record. The schedule comprised two matches on both Saturday and Sunday, beginning with a thriller against Carnegie Mellon (21–5) Saturday morning.

The Maroons came out ready to play, exhibiting a strong service game and fantastic defense. On the other hand, the Tartans appeared lackluster and let the first set slip out of their grasp as Maroon third-year Maren Loe provided two consecutive kills to close out the set 25–16.

However, the Tartans seemed to wake up in the second set, finding their rhythm through first-year outside hitter Heather Holton, who pushed them to an early lead. The Maroons fell into a state of disarray and dropped the set 12–25.

The third set didn’t indicate any sign of change from the Maroons, who had their backs forced against the wall as they faced a 14–20 deficit. In an attempt to take back the set, head coach Sharon Dingman subbed out most of the starting rotation, and with fresh legs on the court, the Maroons came back to 23–24. To their disappointment, though, their final service landed short of the net, and the Tartans escaped with a 23–25 victory and a 2–1 set lead.

Fresh off of their short rest during the concluding points of the third set, the starting rotation took back to the court and rode the momentum of the previous comeback into the fourth set. Behind strong services, the Maroons were able to clinch the fourth set with relative ease by a score of 25–16, forcing the Tartans to play a winner-take-all fifth set.

The 15-point final set began with a couple of Tartan violations, but they quickly overcame the deficit and, as the teams switched sides, Carnegie Mellon held an 8–6 lead. However, the Maroons quickly turned it around and tied up the score at 10–10. With the match nearing its conclusion, Chicago turned to Loe. However, by the time she had rotated out of the front row, the score was knotted up at 13–13. In the end, the Maroons dropped the next two points, the set, and the match.

However, the Maroons were given no time to wallow in their defeat, as their next match was scheduled to begin just 40 minutes later. Case Western (15–8) was full of momentum coming off their victory over Brandeis, and they were eager to prove themselves against tougher competition in the Maroons.

As they came out onto the court to begin the first set, the Maroons were noticeably frustrated with their loss to Carnegie Mellon. The Spartans took advantage and jumped out to a 9–3 lead. Chicago narrowed the gap throughout the rest of the set, but ultimately their comeback bid fell short at 21–25.

The South Siders split the next two sets with Case Western, nursing a 2–1 deficit as they entered the fourth set. The Maroons were clearly tired, and Case Western won the error-riddled set to take the match.

Chicago had a great chance to reverse its fortunes against a weak Rochester (12–17) Sunday morning, and they did just that. Rejuvenated by a good night’s sleep, Chicago demolished the Rochester squad in a three-set sweep, racking up almost twice as many kills as the Yellowjackets in the process.

The victory in the morning propelled Chicago into its final conference game of the season against Emory. However, this rhythm was quickly quashed, and the Eagles defeated the Maroons in the first set 25–19.

Third-year setter Ragine Graves refused to go out quietly. Behind her spectacular setting and defense, the Maroons held a 21–19 lead in the second set. No. 3 Emory (27–3) mounted a comeback and with a 24–23 lead, their setter Sydney Miles missed a serve into the net. The two teams proceeded to swap points until Loe provided two consecutive points to close the set 28–26.

Eager to respond, the Eagles rushed out to a 10–5 lead, and maintained it until the conclusion of the set. Down five on Emory’s set point, Graves catalyzed a Maroon comeback, but it fell short as the Eagles clinched the third set 25–22.

Facing what could be their last conference set this season, the Maroons once again relied on Loe. She delivered over half the team’s kills, but it wasn’t enough as the Eagles took the fourth set 25–20, and the match with it.

With the Round Robin concluded, the Maroons (20–11) now find themselves in fifth place in the UAA standings, and in desperate need of a great performance at the UAA Conference Championships in three weeks.