The Maroons returned home this past Sunday with high spirits after a successful weekend at the UAA Round Robin No. 1 in Atlanta, Georgia.
The Maroons won all three of their matches, improving their record to 18–7 on the season and 2–0 in UAA action. Similarly, the South Siders won in style with high kill rates and attack percentages, their highest being 52 kills and .285 percent in their final match against the Wash U Bears, who had a 48 kill and .174 percent rate.
“It’s a great feeling to go undefeated in the first weekend of conference competition,” said third-year outside hitter Maren Loe. “Especially considering five of the eight UAA teams made it to the NCAA tournament last year.”
What made the wins even more impressive, though, was the close final score of all of the matches.
Chicago’s first match against the NYU Violets started off very close in the first set, ending in a 26–24 finish in favor of the Maroons, while the second set instead ended in a 25–21 victory for the Violets. It all came down to the final set, where the Maroons brought home a 25–21 victory. The fierce competition of this match is best captured by the nearly identical kill rates of the two teams, 55–54—in favor of the Maroons.
Chicago picked up its momentum in the second match against the Brandeis Judges, finishing off the match in straight sets, with the team’s attack percentage more than twice that of the Judges.
The Maroons’ final match against Wash U seemed as though it would also be close, but after losing the first set, the Maroons came back successively stronger and stronger each set, finishing the match with a clear 25–12 victory in the third set.
While each match was a clear victory, Chicago did not know what to expect heading into the weekend.
“We’ve had a lot of upheaval on our team,” Loe said. “So we didn’t know what to expect. We expected to play hard and compete, and that’s exactly what we did. Winning is just a consequence of the effort and teamwork we gave.”
Although Loe herself was a standout player this weekend, she spoke especially highly of the younger members of her team.
“I’m really proud of how a lot of our younger players stepped up into new roles,” she said. “They made a huge difference for us.”
Overall, though, it was very clear that the wins this past weekend were a team effort.
“We had a really strong serving weekend. When we served and passed well, we let our hitters and blockers be successful,” Loe said.
Even with all this success, the team is still hoping to improve as it enters the second half of the season.
“There are always areas for improvement,” Loe said. “And we are looking forward to getting back in the gym this week to prepare for [our] next matches. This [weekend] gives us a lot more confidence going into our second Round Robin in two weeks. We know we can play tough against any team and win.”
Chicago’s next match will be at the Tiffany Robinson Memorial Tournament in Naperville this Friday.