This past weekend, the South Siders hosted Aurora, No. 15 Elmhurst, and No. 11 Juniata in the annual UChicago Invite. Sitting at 11–3, the Maroons headed into the weekend coming off of a great UAA Round Robin but got off to a difficult start with a 3-set loss against Aurora. Although all three of the sets were close, Aurora was able to come up with key runs at important moments to keep victory out of the hands of Chicago.
The hosts turned around quickly to square off against No. 15 Elmhurst in the evening game of Friday’s doubleheader. The Maroons got off to a strong start thanks to solid setting by fourth-year Erin Risk and dominant offensive performances by second-year Sarah Muisenga and first-year Madison Pearson.
Fourth-year Mary Claire Tuohy led the team defensively, racking up 31 digs over the course of the match. However, the Bluejays came back from a 4–10 deficit early in the first set to even the score at 23–23 and eventually win the opening set by just two points, 25–23. Back with a vengeance in the second set, the Maroons executed early with quick aces as well as composure and teamwork in the longer rallies. They closed out the set with a 15–5 run to win 25–14 and even the score to a set apiece.
Elmhurst took the third set, but Chicago rallied back to win the fourth, forcing a tie-breaker fifth set. The fifth set was a nail-biter that had fans from both teams on the edges of their seats. The Maroons went up 14–13 with a perfectly placed kill by third-year outside hitter Frances McDonald, but the Bluejays were able to fend off match point and go on to win the set 16–14, earning them the victory.
On Saturday the Maroons played against their second best opponent of the weekend with a match against No. 11 Juniata. Chicago answered a loss in the first set with a 25–20 victory in the second. The Eagles won the close third set despite dominant serving by first-year Anne Marie Stifter. A 9–2 run in the fourth set helped seal the victory for Juniata.
When asked about the weekend, fourth-year Katie LaPorte said, “I think all teams have big wins and rough losses. It’s the fight and the reaction that shows who the good teams are.” LaPorte remains positive about the season however and said, “We are a great team, so I know we’ll continue to play hard and come back.”
The Maroons will look to the UAA Round Robin next weekend to extend their 3–0 record in conference play. LaPorte is looking forward to facing off against conference opponents. “We still are undefeated in conference play and have this weekend to keep that up and put ourselves in an advantageous position for UAA Championships and therefore the NCAA tournament,” she said. “We now know at what a high level we can execute and what an awesome energy we can play with and have together. It’ll be awesome to see what more we have to bring to the table.”