October 3, 2016

Volleyball Remains Undefeated in Conference Play

It seems as though every sports team at UChicago is on some sort of win streak, and the volleyball squad is no different. The Maroons are on an eight-game win streak and are also currently undefeated in conference play after a weekend in Pittsburgh. 

The weekend started with a relatively harmless opponent in the form of Brandeis, and UChicago dismantled the Judges in a quick three sets. Offense was a huge factor, as the squad was able to nearly double Brandeis’s hitting percentage and the Maroons came away with eight aces to the Judges’ one. 

Next up, however, was No. 16 Carnegie Mellon. The Tartans were the third top-25 team the South Siders faced at that point in the year, falling to No. 5 Calvin and No. 17 Illinois Wesleyan earlier in the season. This match was a different story. Second-year Sarah Muisenga and first-year Anabella Pinton put the team on their backs, smacking home a total of 34 kills and digging 46 balls. Second-year Audrey Scrafford was also a huge factor, leading the team with 20 kills and stuffing four of the Tartans’ attempts. 

“Kills start from a good pass and a good set, so the fact that our hitters are getting lots of kills speaks volumes about the quality of our first contacts and setting,” Muisenga said on the increased production from the hitters. 

The offensive prowess of the Maroons was too much for the Tartans, as the squad was able to take the first two games and then finish in a close fifth game. Fourth-year setter Erin Risk also handed out 45 assists to these prolific hitters and came away with two aces. 

“It’s all about focus and trust in your teammates’ abilities,” Risk said. “Trust is something that is very important to the team this year. We all play for each other and depend equally upon one another to make exciting wins like the ones this weekend a reality.” 

In its final game of the Round Robin, the squad faced off against rival Wash U, which sits at No. 15 in the nation. While the Bears are usually a formidable foe, Chicago was not to be beaten this weekend. The squad was able to dispatch Wash U in just four games. Muisenga had another monster night, registering 20 kills to go along with 14 digs and two aces, while Risk again churned out 47 assists and 14 digs. 

While Wash U is the rival that every UChicago athlete wants to beat, Risk said the match against Carnegie was the most telling. “I think the team really hit its stride during the Carnegie game. We proved that we are a great team and can compete at an extremely high level.” However, she followed that statement up by saying that beating Wash U was the “icing on the cake.” 

The box score was extremely close; the most defining statistics came from hitting errors, with Chicago committing six fewer errors, and blocks. The South Siders blocked three attempts to Wash U’s zero. 

The Maroons takes a break from conference play as they come home this weekend and take on two more top-25 teams, but the Maroons aren’t necessarily overjoyed at the chance to play on their home court. “We had such a fun weekend both on and off the court that we haven’t had during travel in years past, so I think all of us are less excited to be going home this weekend than in past seasons,” Muisenga said. As the squad is 4–0 in away matches and 5–0 in matches played on neutral ground, this isn’t surprising.