ST. LOUIS -- Winning an NCAA tournament match for the first time in the program's 40-year history, the 15th-ranked University of Chicago defeated 21st-ranked University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in four sets Friday night in the opening round of the 2011 NCAA Division III Volleyball Championship at Washington University.
Chicago (30-5) won the first set 25-22 and led the second 23-20 before the Warhawks (26-8) rallied for a 25-23 win to even the match a set apiece.
Chicago then closed out the contest with a 25-14 win in the third set and a 25-16 decision in the final set.
The Maroons hit .355 in the third set and .409 in the fourth to finish the night with a .258 attack percentage. UW-Whitewater hit just .144.
Senior outside hitter Colleen Belak (Louisville, Ky./ Presentation) and sophomore outside hitter Morgan Clark (Purcellville, Va./ Loudon Valley) each clubbed 11 kills.
Junior middle blockers Katie Trela (Glencoe, Ill./ Regina Dominican) and Caroline Brander (River Forest, Ill./ Trinity) combined to hit 16 kills with a .366 percentage. Trela was 9-1-18 on the night, while Brander was 8-1-23.
Sophomore setter Nikki DelZenero (Hinsdale, Ill./ Hinsdale Central) collected 41 assists.
Senior libero Ali Meyers (Crystal Lake, Ill./ Crystal Lake South) served four aces.
Friday's win marked the first NCAA tournament victory in Chicago volleyball history. The Maroons are making their second appearance in the NCAA tournament and second in as many seasons.
Wisconsin-Whitewater is the alma mater of Chicago Head Coach Vanessa Walby. As a player from 1999-2000 and later an assistant coach from 2005-07, she helped lead the Warhawks to an NCAA Division III national championship (2005) and two runner-up performances (2000, 2007).
Chicago matched a school record with its 30th victory. The Maroons finished 30-13 a year ago under Walby and 30-12 under Rosalie Resch in 1992.
The Maroons will face second-ranked Washington (Mo.) University (33-1) in second-round play Saturday at 6 p.m.