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It’d be fair to call this one a comeback.
After losing the first two sets to host Wheaton (14–14) Wednesday night, volleyball (23-10) rallied to win the match 20-25, 17-25, 25-21, 25-17, 15-9, and collect their 10th victory in the past 11 competitions.
“I think we started out really slow,” head coach Vanessa Walby said. “The girls hadn’t competed in over a week—they had last weekend off—and they came out slow, flat.”
The Maroons overcame a two-set deficit for the first time since the 2004 campaign.
“I thought the match showed the development of a skill we’ve been working on all season: Being positive and believing we can do it, no matter how far down we are,” first-year middle blocker Katie Trela said. “It is so easy to, as our coach puts it, ‘roll over and die’ when a team is out-working yours and just give up when that team gets a run or, in this case, wins the first two games in a best-of-five match.”
The turning point came during game three, when Walby sent in a new lineup.
“Coach Walby really mixed things up by putting [second-year outside hitter] Colleen Belak in the setter’s position and [second-year outside hitter] Gabby Blackwell in as a right-side hitter in the third game, in which we were already down five points,” said Trela, who collected 14 kills and six blocks throughout the night. “Both girls stepped it up immediately as leaders and made everyone want to fight as hard as they were fighting.”
First-year libero Sam Brown, who finished with 28 digs, shared this perspective.
“When Gabby came into the game, her energy and confidence inspired everyone on the court,” Brown said, “not to mention that Colleen was setting beautifully.”
“We knew that the lineup was very different and that we would have to get through it together,” she continued. “Everyone stepped up to the plate and started playing as the aggressive team that I know we are, feeding off each other every point.”
“Upsetting the Wheaton fans cheering on their team for Senior Night made the win all the sweeter,” Trela added.
This weekend, Chicago will face four teams at a tournament hosted at Illinois Wesleyan. Besides the Titans, the Maroons will play Mount St. Joseph, Anderson, and Augustana.
“We suffered an ugly loss against Illinois Wesleyan earlier in the season, and we play them first,” Trela explained.
“Wesleyan was one of the worst matches we’ve played this year,” Walby said. “The girls want to come out and prove some things to them on Saturday—and I think they’re mentally prepared to do it.”
“I look for a four-and-O weekend,” she continued, “and the girls do too.”
“I know we’ll bring everything we’ve got to the court in order to put ourselves in the best possible standing in our region,” Trela added. “We’re itching to meet and exceed our 25-win goal.”