After reaching the second round of the NCAA DIII Championships last year, No. 25 Chicago (26–12) has been preparing harder than ever this week for this year’s NCAA first round match.
“We had a great practice yesterday morning, and we’ve got one tonight to get a couple more touches,” said third-year outside hitter Maren Loe.
Yet, having been named the UAA conference most valuable player, Loe knows all the more that the most intensive preparation for the NCAA Championship is already behind the squad.
“Most of the work has been done already,” Loe said. “It’s all about execution and performance now.”
This emphasis on performance will be critical when it comes to the South Siders’ match this Thursday.
“We’ve made it to the second round for the past four years now,” said Loe. “So we’re hoping to continue that tradition. Our focus is one point, one set, and one match at a time.”
Loe, along with the rest of the impressive team, seems to have high expectations that this focus will pay off in their match against DePauw (26–10).
“DePauw is pretty similar to a couple other teams we’ve played,” said Loe. “So we’re really excited to be able to use a similar game plan.”
This game plan paid off extremely well in the UAA Championship against Case Western Reserve and the UAA Championship Semifinal against Wash U.
“Upsetting Wash U a second time is really good for our team. It adds to our confidence to know that we can beat really good teams,” Loe said.
But Loe also spoke to the fact that the results of the UAA Championship do not mean much more than a successful practice for the upcoming NCAA Championship. While this is true for Chicago, it is equally valid for all of the teams competing as well.
“Each of the 64 teams in the tournament has a clean slate now, with the opportunity to win a national championship,” said Loe. “Everyone is going to play hard, since the only other option is going.”
After the squad’s successful season, the outcome for the NCAA Championship seems to suggest positive forecasts this year with the Maroons having the possibility to surpass last year’s success of reaching the NCAA second round. With this possibility, the team seems to be in good spirits heading into Thursday’s match.
“I am blessed with such talented teammates, and their support on and off the court has been so crucial in my personal success, as well as our successes as a team,” Loe said.
The match against DePauw will kick off at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday in Kenosha, WI.