CHICAGO, Ill. -- The University of Chicago volleyball team hosted day one of its Gargoyle Classic and split its two match on Friday.
The No. 11-ranked Maroons ran their record to 11-3 on the year.
Chicago's first match of the day came against No. 18-ranked University of Mount Union. The first two sets played very evenly as the Purple Raiders won the first 26-24 and the Maroons took the second 25-24. Mount Union won the third 25-21 with powerful spiking from the outside and to push the hosts to the brink.
In the fourth set, Chicago got its groove back offensively. Maren Loe got off to a good start attacking to help the Maroons take an 8-5 lead. But Mount Union came right back and looked to be in control up 17-13. That's when Loe turned it up, stringing together multiple successful attacks in a row as the freshman hit around the double block into a scoring alley that she continuously exploited. Chicago subsequently went on a 9-1 run to recapture the lead and then take the set 25-20.
With the momentum on their side, the Maroons took the early lead in the fifth set 7-3. Two clutch service aces by Ragine Graves pushed the advantage to 9-7. Caroline Brander ended the match with an ace for a final of 15-9.
Statistically, Loe led the way with 18 kills and 10 digs. Katie Trela posted an efficient offensive line with 10 kills and only one error on 19 attempts. She also paced the defensive effort with three solo blocks and one block assist. Brander was also effective in the middle, tallying 11 kills on 17 attempts. Morgan Barry compiled 10 kills and three service aces. Setter Nikki DelZenero dished out 47 assists to go with her 11 digs and four kills. Eirene Kim and Samatha Brown finished with 13 digs and 10 digs, respectively. As a team, Chicago served up 11 aces.
The day's second match foe was No. 21-ranked Carthage College. Chicago looked good early on with an effective offense and built a 10-3 lead. But Carthage started to rally thanks to good defense and took advantage of miscues to take a 22-20 lead. The Maroons evened it up and the two teams exchanged back and forth up to 29-29. Two mishits by Carthage ended the set 31-29 in favor of Chicago.
Two aces by Kim staked the hosts to a 7-2 advantage. Good serves kept Chicago up at 15-10. The Lady Reds clawed back again, however and tied the proceedings 24-24. An tip score by DelZenero won the set for the Maroons 26-24.
Chicago was leading again the entire third set and were up 24-20. But Carthage put together a huge rally and scored six-straight points to steal the set 26-24.
With momentum on their side, the Lady Reds used superlative digging and defense to keep rallies alive in the set four. Once again, the visitors held on and forced a decided set with 25-22 win.
Carthage got off a hot start with five-straight points to start the fifth set. Chicago was playing catch up the rest of the way, eventually tying the game 14-14. The Lady Reds won the final two points to finish the comeback 16-14.
Chicago's service game was once again a strength with 14 aces. Barry knocked down 20 kills, collected 13 digs and made five assisted blocks. Loe tallied 19 kills and a team-high 24 digs to go with her three aces. DelZenero assisted on 47 kills. Brander scored seven kills and was a big presence in the middle with four solo blocks and five assisted blocks. Kim served three aces and totaled 13 digs. Brown ended up with 10 digs and two aces.
The Maroons will play two more matches on Saturday, with a 10 AM start versus Carroll University and a 2 PM starrt versus Heidelberg University.