This weekend the Maroons (11–5) will go head-to-head with three teams in their first UAA Round Robin.
The South Siders travel to Case (9–9), in Cleveland, for their first foray into conference matches this year. This weekend, at Case’s Veale Center, Chicago will face off against Brandeis (8–10) and Rochester (6–13) on Saturday and Wash U (11–4) on Sunday.
Chicago played its first match of the year against Adrian College (5–11) on August 30. Since the UAA only holds two round robins a year, every match counts. In the UAA standings, Chicago is ranked fifth. The most highly ranked team the Maroons will play this weekend is Wash U, currently ranked fourth in the conference.
“So far our season has been challenging, but exciting. We have a very tough schedule this year. Every single week we are playing someone that is ranked in the top 25, and sometimes we are playing two or three,” said head coach Vanessa Walby.
In October, the Maroons will match up against several highly-ranked teams, including three of the top five in DIII. Walby described the next four weeks as “tough.”
Walby sees a silver lining in the rigorous schedule.
“This is a benefit for multiple reasons. We get to compete at a high level, we are challenged constantly, and we are being prepared on a weekly basis for conference and hopefully postseason,” she said.
After a strong showing at Chicago’s own Gargoyle Classic, where the team went 3–1, and a thrashing of Lake Forest College (6–11) where the Maroons didn’t allow a single set Wednesday of last week, the team has built up momentum. The South Siders also gained some accolades. In the month of September, both third-year libero Eirene Kim and fourth-year right side hitter Katie Huntington earned UAA Athlete of the Week status.
First-year right side hitter and setter Erin Risk is confident about this weekend.
“I feel great about the upcoming Round Robin. The whole team has really pulled together through the last couple games. We are coming off a strong win from last Wednesday,” she said. Risk cited her team’s versatility as one of its greatest strengths this season.
Walby was more conservative.
“Every conference weekend will be challenging for us. I would say without a doubt in my mind, that our conference is the toughest conference in the country for DIII,” she said. “So every time that we meet we will be going up against teams that are going to constantly challenge us.” The South Siders will have to be on their game this weekend.
The UAA Round Robin at Case will begin for the Maroons at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, against Brandeis. Later in the afternoon, they’ll face Rochester, before matching up against Wash U on Sunday.