October 27, 2016

"Volloween" Double-Header Honors Four Seniors

It seems as though this season could be characterized as a roller coaster for the Maroons, with flashes of brilliance marred by the occasional deflating loss. After a weekend of UAA domination, in which the squad went 4–0 to bring its overall UAA record to 7–0 and earn the No. 1 ranking heading into the UAA tournament, the South Siders fell to Wheaton College last Thursday, a team they could have conceivably obliterated. 

First-year Madison Pearson said of the Wheaton match fallout, “We plan on rebounding by taking time off to regroup, refocus, and rejuvenate our mental fortitude. We plan on going in to practice this week with attitudes that are even more driven than before.”

Fortunately, the Maroons have a chance to rebound this weekend in a double-header, where they will take on Dominican and North Park, two unranked teams. If the squad plays the way it has against its conference foes, defeating the No. 6, No. 15, and No. 16 teams in the nation, it should be set.

Further, the South Siders have already proven themselves against Dominican this year. In an interesting choice of scheduling, the squad took on the Stars on September 10, demolishing them by a score of three games to none, with second-year Sarah Muisenga leading the way with 17 kills. 

“Teams are constantly changing and improving,” Pearson said on the opportunity to play Dominican again. “I'm excited to see how much we have changed as a team and it should be exciting to see how they have changed too.” 

The second match-up of the night, North Park, is also not necessarily a team to be taken lightly. Although their overall record is a paltry 7–18, the Vikings have fallen to several of the same opponents as the Maroons, dropping matches against Illinois Wesleyan, Wheaton, Aurora, and Elmhurst.

The squad also has the added motivation of the fact that it is Senior Night, in which Chicago will honor its four fourth-years: setter Erin Risk, outside hitter Amy Risk, middle blocker Katie LaPorte, and libero Mary Claire Tuohy.

Pearson could not rave enough about these fourth-years. “As a whole, they were so welcoming and such great resources for the first-years. Any questions that I had, I knew I could ask any of them,” she said. As far as volleyball goes, Pearson was again incredibly enthusiastic. “When it comes to volleyball, they all play such an important role on the team! We would not be near the same team we are now if it weren't for their hard work and dedication to the program,” she said. “They are all wonderful role models and I know that they'll all go on to do wonderful things once they graduate. 

These four fourth-years have been through a lot with this Maroons program but have also led them to post-season bids every year since 2013, when they were first-years. Tuohy is also tied for the record of most digs in a single match with 42, and the team has never had a losing season or placed lower than fourth in the UAA standings at the end of the year.

The games begin at 6 p.m. when the squad squares off against Dominican and continues at 8 p.m. with a matchup against North Park. The double header set-up should also give the Maroons confidence: in five of their eight double-header days, they have won at least one of the matches.