The Maroon’s season came to an end last Thursday as Chicago lost to Birmingham-Southern College 3–1 in the opening round of the NCAA division championship tournament.
Chicago squared off against the Panthers for the first time in either school’s history to kick off the opening round of the NCAA tournament.
The Maroons came out hot, taking a sizable lead in the first set. Fourth-year leaders Jasmine Mobley and Maren Loe helped contribute to the 7–3 advantage by providing two kills apiece. As the match dragged on, the Panthers of Birmingham-Southern started to find their groove and mounted a comeback to make the score 13–11. Each team clawed and scratched for each point as the match was nearly dead even at 23–22 in favor of Birmingham Southern. Unfortunately for the Maroons, the Panthers found a way to finish the job and won the first set 25–22.
First-year Sydney Majors felt that in the first match the Maroons came out and did not play as aggressively as they could have. “I think our team definitely started off the Birmingham Southern match playing nervously—we were timid.”
After the first set, the Maroons bounced back to find more of a rhythm to take the second set 25–23. The second set was a set of big runs made by both teams, as the South Siders jumped out to take an 8–2 lead. The Panthers, not to be outdone, rebounded to take a 15–10 lead over the Maroons. With their backs against the wall, Chicago took the next nine out of 11 points with the spirit of a team fighting to keep its championship hopes alive. The Maroons used their positive momentum to win the set and to tie the match at 1–1.
The third match was marked by a lot of missed opportunities for the Maroons as they committed 10 miscues in attack errors. They were able to mount a 17–15 lead but the Panthers rallied to take ten straight points to seal the third set.
The errors did not get better in the fourth set as the Maroons blew a 20–13 lead to allow the Panthers to seal the match and to advance to the second round of the playoffs.
Third-year Mary Claire Tuohy was not disappointed with her team’s effort in the match but she felt as though they could not find a rhythm throughout the day. “We definitely didn’t play our best. However, I also wouldn’t say that there was poor execution of any particular skill that led to the loss. It was just one of those games where we couldn’t find a rhythm. The effort was there. However, the skills just weren’t coming together smoothly.”
While Tuohy was not satisfied with how the season finished, she was very proud of how the Maroons fought through adversity to have a successful season. “We’ve had a lot of hurdles. We haven’t been a healthy team this year. But we tried to control what we could control and at the end of the day. Win or lose, it forced us to really mentally toughen up and place trust outside ourselves in our teammates. And for that, I think we are all very proud of ourselves.”