GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Despite a thrilling first set victory, the University of Chicago volleyball team ended up with a 3-1 loss to Wittenberg University in the second round of the NCAA Division III Championship on Friday.
The No. 16-ranked Maroons wrapped up their season with a 27-11 record. The No. 10-ranked Tigers improved to 25-8 and advanced to the third round.
The UChicago defense came ready from the start. The Maroons opened the match with four blocks on their first five points. The lead grew to 9-3 and then 13-6. However, Wittenberg hung tough and came back to tie the score at 20-20. After alternating points, UChicago outlasted Wittenberg 30-28 to take the first set.
In the second set, the two teams were tied midway through at 13-13. The Tigers then embarked on an 11-3 run to grab control and eventually win the set 25-20. Kara Seidenstricker led Wittenberg with six kills in the set.
The third set went back and forth as well, with UChicago taking an 18-16 lead. But the Tiger finished the set on a 9-4 run to win 25-22.
Wittenberg took a 10-4 lead in the fourth set and the Maroons stuck around, getting within two points at 20-18 and 23-21. Two-straight kills by Wittenberg ended the match 25-21. Seidenstricker proved to be too much to handle, totaling 22 kills and only three attack errors.
This marked the fourth-straight year that UChicago earned selection to the NCAA Championship and the third-consecutive season that the Maroons reached the second round. The senior class finishes as the second-winning group in school history with a four-year record of 116-41 (.739 winning percentage).
Additionally, senior setter Nikki DelZenero was named to the Regional All-Tournament Team.
"This is a special class for me actually," said Head Coach Vanessa Walby. "It was my first recruiting class that I brought in and each kid has their own personality, which I think adds a lot of flavor and spunk to our team. Their leadership is fantastic on and off the court. They are going to be deeply missed in that aspect, as well as their skills... They've helped elevate our program to another level in their four years here."
Katie Huntington (Rightside Hitter, Sr.) – 13 kills, 3 blocks
Maren Loe (Outside Hitter, So.) – 12 kills, 6 digs, 4 blocks
Maggie Vaughn (Middle Blocker, Sr.) – 9 kills, 6 blocks, 4 digs
Jasmine Mobley (Outside Hitter, So.) – 9 kills
Nikki DelZenero (Setter, Sr.) – 42 assists, 18 digs
Eirene Kim (Libero, Jr.) – 26 digs, 6 assists
Erin Risk (Setter/Rightside Hitter, Fr.) – 19 digs
Ragine Graves (Setter, So.) – 11 digs