The Maroons fell to DePauw University on Thursday in the first round of the NCAA DIII Championship in Kenosha, WI. The South Siders were defeated in three straight sets, the scores of which were 25–19, 25–19, and 25–18, respectively. The disappointing loss brought an end to an otherwise successful season for the Maroons, who finished 26–13 overall and 4–3 in UAA play under the leadership of new head coach Sharon Dingman.
DePauw went on to lose to Carthage 3–0 in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
After a successful regular season that put the Maroons in good standing to make an impact in the tournament, the squad can’t help but be disappointed with a loss in the first round. Fourth-year libero Eirene Kim, recognizes that the team made many devastating mistakes in the match, which cost them the win.
“In the last few weeks before NCAAs, we have held ourselves to a very high standard of play that has helped us to beat top teams like Elmhurst and Dominican, and that helped us to get to the UAA finals,” Kim said. “And that high standard of play was nowhere to be found against DePauw. If we served tougher like we normally do, we could have put them out of system. If we passed better on serve-receive we could have set up our offense for better opportunities. We just didn’t click and play well together.”
Despite a lackluster performance, the Maroons remain grateful for the experience to have competing in the NCAA tournament and they recognize their many accomplishments this season.
“It was a really cool experience getting to go to the NCAA tournament,” said first-year middle blocker Taylor David. “Although we wanted to go further, this season was great considering the changes and hardships we faced. Coach Sharon made the transition to a different philosophy go quite smoothly.”
“I think there is a lot to be proud of this season,” Kim said. “We dealt with a lot of adversity. People think when we talk about adversity the team faced we are talking about injuries or the coaching changes we have had. But there are some things that our team has had to fight through that far exceed the struggles of a simple injury or coaching change.”
The team will lose four fourth-years (Eirene Kim, Kara Conway, Ariel Chang, and Morgan Barry) who all had successful careers, going 112–41 overall and making four NCAA tournament appearances. Despite these significant losses, the women remain confident for the future of Chicago volleyball.
Third-year outside hitter and UAA MVP Maren Loe, and third-year setter Ragine Graves, who earned Second Team All-UAA status, will return next year for the Maroons. A strong first-year campaign by David also shows promise for the squad in the future.
Even Kim, whose volleyball career as a Maroon has come to end, is excited for her teammates’ future potential.
“I’m so proud of how strong our team has been through everything,” Kim said. “I’m excited to see what the team accomplishes next year and in the years to come.”