November 3, 2009

Maroons win 25 for first time since 1996

Having a short-term memory would usually be a problem at the University of Chicago, but it was a blessing for women’s volleyball this weekend at the Illinois Wesleyan Tournament.

After losing both of their matches on Friday, the Maroons (25–13) came back strong to win two matches on Saturday.

Of the Friday losses, the first, a 1–3 loss against Illinois Wesleyan (19–15), was the more disheartening, because the Maroons had already lost to them earlier in the season.

“That was a big disappointment for us, because we wanted revenge,” first-year libero Samantha Brown said.

Second-year outside hitters Isis Smalls and Colleen Belak had strong showings in the losing effort. Belak had six kills, five assists, and 14 digs, while Smalls contributed 12 kills.

Smalls also led the Maroons with 10 kills against Mt. St. Joseph the same day. Chicago failed to take a set in that match.

“We had zero energy on the court and when it did come out it was more of the frustrated, angry variety: not very productive,” first-year middle blocker Katie Trela said of Friday’s performance.

After Friday’s losses, Chicago turned it around on Saturday, thanks in part to a better attitude.

“On Saturday, we came in with a different, steady mentality,” Brown said.

The Maroons marched past Anderson 3–0 (15–14), and then beat Augustana 3–1 (11–20), improving their record to 25-13. This is the first year since 1996 that Chicago has won 25 games.

Against Anderson, third-year outside hitter Elizabeth Kossnar showed some versatility with seven kills, four digs, and four blocks. Brown, for her part, notched 22 digs against Augustana.

This weekend, the Maroons will host the UAA Championship, in which they are seeded third. The winner of the championship will receive the UAA’s automatic berth in the NCAA tournament.

“This week will most likely be about fine-tuning. After two and a half months of volleyball, we’re in shape, we know the plays, we know how to work together. We just have to get a lot of extra good touches on the ball so we build up confidence going into Friday,” Trela said.

While upsetting Wash U and Emory to win the tournament may be too tall a task for this season’s team, the Maroons have youth on their side. Besides fourth-year outside hitter Diandra Bucciarelli and Kossnar, the Maroons are all first and second-years.

“I think having most of us around the same age is an advantage. We all gel very well, and are in the same boat,” Brown said.