A record of 2–38 against a particular team is not usually something to cheer about. Today it is.
At the UAA Round Robin I, No. 18 Chicago (14–5) defeated Brandeis (9–12) and Rochester (7–16) on Saturday and then No. 9 Wash U (14–5) on Sunday in the championship.
Last year was the first time in history that the Maroons beat the Wash U Bears, and on their 40th meeting this year, Chicago improved their head-to-head record to 2–38. However, the only contest that matters now is Sunday’s.
“Our main strengths were that we played as a team and had a great mentality. Every individual stepped up when they were called upon and, everyone played a part,” said fourth-year setter Nikki DelZenero about the win over Wash U.
On Saturday, Chicago pounded Brandeis in straight sets, winning 25–15, 25–15, and then 25–16. Rochester gave the Maroons a bit more of a scare but still fell in three straight sets: 25–18, 25–23, and 25–17.
“When it comes to conference matches, every team is going to play all out,” DelZenero said. “[Fourth-year middle blocker] Maggie Vaughn played outstanding [on Saturday]. Katie La Porte is a freshman and had to step up after our other middle [was] sick. She did wonderful.”
In the championship match, Chicago handily took the first set 25–14, setting the tone. Wash U recovered and won the next set 25–23. That would prove to be the only set Chicago would lose all weekend, though, as it then won the final two sets 25–18 and 25–22.
Chicago evened its record with Wash U after the win on Sunday and looks to rise in the rankings.
Although DelZenero was proud of her team’s selfless play, she isn’t 100 percent satisfied with their overall performance.
“There’s always something to improve on,” she said. “We need to keep working on our blocking and defense against certain attacks, and we need to continue playing as a team. It’s all about consistency, so hopefully we’ll keep it where it needs to be.”
DelZenero led her team to victory by setting a season high with 43 assists, and second-year outside hitter Maren Loe added 17 kills, her second highest total of the year.
The Maroons will certainly aim to bump up their record against Wash U to 3–38 next season. Before then, Chicago has half of this season left and is set to carry its momentum to Grand Rapids, MI for the Midwest Challenge next weekend.