Chicago volleyball claimed victories in their first and third games at the UAA Round Robin this weekend, defeating Rochester and Brandeis. Chicago lost the first set against Brandeis but came back strong, winning the final three.
The victories were highlighted by strong attacks from fourth-year outside hitter Diandra Bucciarelli and second-year middle back Caroline Brander.
Between the two victories, however, lay defeat at the hands of Washington University. Chicago fought hard, winning the first two sets, but lost control in the third and fourth sets. The fifth set, closely played throughout, ultimately went to the Bears as well.
Third-year outside hitter Isis Smalls and second-year middle back Katie Trela claimed the most kills with 11 each. Bucciarelli and second-year libero Samantha Brown also stood out with 12 and 17 digs, respectively.
“[The] middle backs on the team were very consistent this weekend; the defenders also had a good rhythm,” said head coach Vanessa Walby.
Moreover, the depth of the team contributed to their success. Walby added that she feels “comfortable substituting several girls into different positions.”
Third-year Isis Smalls agreed: “[It] attests to the growth and the depth of our team. Coach could feel free to make substitutes into the game that only improved the level of play.”
Despite the loss, Walby was excited about the game. She said that the team was tough from the beginning. They “hopped out pretty quick and made a nice statement, putting Chicago on the map.” Walby also stated that the team knew that first-ranked Washington would be a tough opponent. “We knew they were not going to roll over and die,” she said.
Brown expressed disappointment over the loss to Washington, stating, “Even though the Wash U game was thoroughly disappointing, the result shows a huge improvement in our team. Last year, they stomped us in three games easily. This year, we could have, and should have, beaten them. The best part is that we are not even near reaching our peak. It could be that the loss needed to happen to fuel us for when we meet again.”
Smalls felt the same way, stating, “It is good we won two out of three games, but we did not play our game, and we should have won all three.” She went on to say that the tournament was a wake-up call for the team, forcing them to reevaluate what they want out of the season. Coach Walby also sensed the missed opportunity, but as she said, “the girls learned, and maybe next time there will be a different outcome.”
But the Maroons must still compete against the seemingly indomitable Washington Bears. The Bears have been national champions three times since 2003 and are currently the defending champions, a title they are protecting tenaciously with a 17—0 record.
That type of resolve is what Smalls wants to see Chicago adopt. “We have to improve on playing consistently at a high level, playing our true game no matter who is on the other side of the court,” she said. “It’s easy to play lax against teams that are less competitive, but great teams, national championship teams, are ones that play tenaciously against any opponent. I think we need to take up the goal of consistency as individuals and as a team.”
However, the Maroons must first take care of the Concordia Chicago Cougars in their upcoming match on Tuesday, October 12th at the Ratner Athletics Center.