October 23, 2007

Foresters reap benefits of volleyball's struggles

Troubles have been following the struggling volleyball team all fall, and last week’s contest was no exception. Now, though, time is running out on 2007, and there won’t be many more chances to find a fix to the team’s problems before the year ends.

Last Thursday was another tough day for the Maroons as they dropped another match and slipped to 5–19 on the season. This time the loss came on their home court at Ratner at the hands of Lake Forest.

Despite strong performances from the usual suspects—second-year outside hitter Diandra Bucciarelli and fourth-year middle hitter Koryn Kendall—Chicago came up short as a team against the Foresters, who improved to 7–15. While they were able to stop Lake Forest from pulling off the three-set sweep, the South Siders still fell over relatively easily to their visitors.

Building up comfortable leads all night, the Foresters set the tone with a 30–18 win in the opener. Chicago attacked at a match-high .424 percent in the next set, but couldn’t prevent Lake Forest from taking control with a 30–21 win. Down 2–0, the Maroons had to mount a comeback in the third set or face a shutout decision for the 10th time this season. The Maroons managed to fight back this time, posting an effective .417 attack percentage with only three errors as they put themselves back in the mix with a 30–22 edging.

This newfound fire didn’t stay lit for long, however, as Chicago crumpled statistically in the final round. Attacking at an abysmally low .019 percent, the South Siders converted only eight kills, despite having nearly twice as many opportunities as in the first trio of sets. Sloppy on defense as the match dragged on, the Maroons committed seven errors after allowing only nine in the previsou three sets combined. Against this porous defense and inefficient front court, the Lakers closed out the night with a 30–22 decision.

Bucciarelli dominated with 15 kills and 18 digs for her 11th double-double of the season, leading the team in that category. Closing in on her place in the record books, Kendall contributed 14 kills, bringing her 10 kills away from third on the all-time Chicago career chart. Kelly Humphrey (1993–96) currently holds that spot with 1,054 kills, behind Erica Pettke and Katie Meinhover, who clocked in 1,087 and 1,245 kills respectively from 2002 to 2005.

Other bright spots for the home team included third-year middle hitter Kerry Dornfield and third-year outside hitter Katie Volzer, who netted 10 and 13 kills respectively. Volzer also led the team with seven errors.

This year has been rough for the Maroons, who have no chance of balancing out a lopsided record with five games left. Although Chicago got off to a 2–1 start to begin the season, things soon went downhill as a plethora of injuries hampered the team. The season hit its low point with a nine-game losing streak, which they finally snapped on October 6th in a three-set sweep over Wisconsin Lutheran (8-17).

Four opponents remain until the UAA Championships hosted by Rochester (5-11, 0-3 UAA) on November 2. So far the Maroons are 1-6 against league opponents, notching their victory in a 3-0 shutout of the Yellowjackets at the Second Round Robin October 14 in Cleveland. Although the team faces an uphill road, it has every intent of making the most of the matches it has left.

“We’d like to work on improving our defense, and being aggressive,” head coach Dorinda von Tersch said.

The Maroons will try to close out their home season with a win Wednesday when Illinois Tech (21–8) makes the trip to Hyde Park.