After splitting its games at the Whitewater Invitational, the women’s volleyball team came back Tuesday night to defeat Wheaton in five sets (25–21, 25–20, 20–25, 20–25, 15–12), bringing its record for the season to 17–4.
The 19th-ranked Maroons saw strong performances across the board. They were led offensively by third-year Isis Smalls, who hit 22 kills, second-year Caroline Brander with 19 kills, and first-year Katie Huntington with 11 kills. Smalls has consistently pulled through for Chicago over the past three years, and recieved an All-UAA First Team award last season. She was the first Maroon in 13 years to do so. In the recent Wheaton match, Brander also had a particularly strong performance, hitting .432 for the night and serving an ace at match point for the win.
The Maroon’s defense also saw strong performances from several members of the team, led by second-year Samantha Brown, who contributed 23 digs, and third-year Alexandria Meyers, who had 18 digs.
Chicago’s strong play seemed to falter slightly in the middle sets, however, as Wheaton was able to force the deciding fifth set after losing the first two to the Maroons. Second-year Katie Trela commented, “On our match against Wheaton, we started strong, but broke in communication and intensity in later games. But it was a good learning lesson heading into UAAs this weekend.”
This weekend, the Maroons will be traveling to Emory University in Atlanta, where they will face top-ranked Washington University, among others, in the University Athletic Association Round-Robin. Last year in the UAA tournament, the team went 4–3, which earned them their fourth seed spot in the Finals. If Chicago can stay consistent in their dominating play throughout the entire match, they should be a force to be reckoned with this year.
After a strong start to the season, winning their first eleven games straight, the team has stumbled slightly with some mid-season losses. However, only one of those losses has been to an unranked team. In fact, with Tuesday’s win, the team’s home-court record in the last three years rose to 16–3 under Coach Vanessa Walby, with the Maroons winning 15 of their last 16 home games. With only one home game left in the season, it will be crucial for the team to produce these same strong performances while away.