November 12, 2018

Volleyball Narrowly Eliminated By Aurora

On Friday, the Maroon women’s volleyball team dominated the University of Dubuque Spartans 3–0 in the first round of NCAA DIII regional. 

Playing at home, the Maroons routed the Spartans 25–13 in set one before winning a back-and-forth set two 25–20. Despite an early 7–2 Dubuque lead in the third set, the Maroons fought the Spartans off to 17–17 before taking eight of next 11 serves to seal victory and advance to the next round. 

Friday night’s strong performance is made evident in the Maroon’s dominant statistics. Offensively, the Maroons boasted a hitting percentage of .222 and recorded five aces. Defensively, Chicago held Dubuque to a paltry 0.082 hitting percentage and tallied six blocks throughout the night.  

The Maroons’ offense was highlighted by several dominant performances. Fourth-year Sarah Muisenga and third-year Madison Pearson rallied the team offensively, tallying 12 kills each. Second-year Emma Griffith recorded a team-leading 23 assists. Griffith also recorded a team-leading 23 digs. 

The Maroons played the second round of the NCAA DIII regional at home against Aurora on Saturday at 5 p.m. 

The Aurora Spartans, however, would prove to be far more difficult opponents than those from Dubuque. The Maroons lost a drawn-out 3–2 battle Saturday evening, ending their hopes of taking the NCAA DIII regional. 

Chicago got off to a quick start, routing Aurora 25–18 in the first set. Yet the Spartans quickly responded with a blow of their own, seizing set two 25–17. The blows continued throughout the night, as Chicago narrowly won set three 25–23 before falling 30–28 in a laborious third set. With the match tied at two sets apiece, the Maroons were unable to contain an ascendant Aurora team early in the fifth set. The Spartans started off set five 8–3 before taking seven of the next 14 serves to advance to the next round of the tournament. 

The Maroon’s loss can be partly explained through the game’s statistics. Aurora’s defense proved insurmountable as they recorded 10 blocks, five more than the Maroons could post. The Spartan offense was similarly potent, recording eight aces to Chicago’s four and 114 digs to Chicago’s 97. 

Despite the strong Spartan team, several Maroons recorded excellent games of their own. Second-year Mikayla Hardy had the best game of her career, recording 15 kills and 15 digs. Pearson scored 12 kills. Meanwhile, second-year Emma Griffith’s 57 assists was five away from tying the school record for assists in a game. To this sum, she piled on an incredible 21 digs, rounding out an incredible game and a strong season. 

Fourth-years Muisenga and Audrey Scrafford played well in their last game, a fitting tribute to a pair of incredible Maroon careers in which each tallied over a thousand kills apiece. Muisenga recorded 11 digs and seven kills while Scrafford tallied up 12 kills throughout the night. 

The Maroons thus ended their 2018 season with an overall record of 29–5 and a conference record of 6–1. The team’s 0.853 winning percentage is the highest in school history. 2018 was also the first time the Maroons have ever attained the No. 1 regional ranking and thus the first time the University of Chicago has ever hosted the NCAA regional.