CHICAGO – The University of Chicago volleyball team's eight-match winning streak came to a halt on Friday with a pair of losses to Aurora University and Elmhurst College at the UChicago Invite.
The Maroons dropped to 11-6. The Spartans (15-7) won for the 13th time in their past 15 matches. The No. 15-ranked Bluejays improved to 14-6.
Aurora 3, UChicago 0 (25-22, 28-26, 25-17)
Aurora ran out to a 7-1 advantage to start the day and never trailed in the first set. UChicago pulled to within 20-17, but the Spartans held sway 25-22 to go up one.
The home side got some momentum early in the second set and drew ahead 11-6. However, a 7-1 run by Aurora evened things up and the two teams exchanged points the rest of the way. Three-straight kills by the Spartans gave them the 28-26 win.
In the third set, the Maroons started strong with four-straight kills by sophomore Sarah Muisenga. After a put-away by senior middle hitter Katie LaPorte, the hosts were up 8-3. But seven-straight points from the visitors halted the momentum at 10-8. The Maroons took a 16-15 lead midway through, and then the Spartans charged hard down the stretch to take 10 of the next 11 points to capture the match, 25-17. Aurora hit .400 in the third set as a unit.
Muisenga as the top offensive performer with 17 kills and a .429 hitting percentage to go with eight digs. Senior setter Erin Risk posted 34 assists and 10 digs. Overall, UChicago hit .185 as a team (41 kills, 18 errors, 124 attempts) with 50 digs, four blocks and two aces.
Aurora finished with a .268 hitting percentage (50-16-127) with 56 digs, eight blocks and five aces.
Elmhurst 3, UChicago 2 (25-23, 14-25, 25-16, 20-25, 16-14)
In the evening match, UChicago faced off against its fifth nationally-ranked opponent of the season. The Maroons got off to a good start at 5-1 thanks to stellar court coverage defensively that kept rallies alive. Freshman middle hitter Madison Pearson's kill pushed the lead to 10-4. But Elmhurst hung tough and scratched its way back into the match, finding success with dumps and rolls to the open middle court. At 23-23, the Bluejays scored a kill and came up with a double block to grab the opening game, 25-23.
Once the Maroons started rolling on serve in the second set, they found their footing again. The home team served up several aces and poor receptions by Elmhurst put the Bluejays on their heels offensively. UChicago took full advantage and executed with aplomb down the stretch. The longer the rallies went, the more they played into the Maroons' hands. The hosts closed the set on a 15-5 run to even up the match 25-14. Hitting percentage told the story as Elmhurst tallied -.026 while UChicago stood at .417.
Elmhurst found its offensive groove early in the third set, building an early 11-5 lead. The margin never dipped below five points from there and the Bluejays moved to the brink, winning 25-16. The Maroons hit .000 in the set.
In the fourth set, UChicago went up 6-2 but then fell behind 11-7 after three-straight aces. Elmhurst blocked well on the edges and pushed its lead to 15-7. But from that point on, the Maroons came roaring back. Their precision serving carved up Elmhurst's reception, leading to free balls and forcing the visitors out of their system constantly. All told, the home side closed on an 18-5 run to even the match up 25-20.
The deciding fifth set was nip-and-tuck the whole way as each team answered one kill with another. UChicago was poised to finish when junior outside hitter Frances McDonald sent a ball to the unoccupied left corner for a kill and set up match point at 14-13. But the Bluejays countered with a kill, a solo block and a service ace to seize the victory, 16-14.
UChicago hit .154 in the match (58-28-195) with 107 digs, six blocks and seven aces. Risk's 52 assists were a new career-high. Pearson broke through with a .419 hitting percentage and a team-best 16 kills. Freshman outside hitter Anabella Pinton put in a well-rounded effort of 15 kills, 13 digs and five blocks. Senior libero Mary Claire Tuohy racked up 31 digs with two aces.
Elmhurst ended with a .141 hitting percentage (57-29-199) with 93 digs, 12 blocks and nine aces.
UChicago Stat Leaders
Madison Pearson (Fr.) – 16 kills, 3 blocks
Anabella Pinton (Fr.) – 15 kills, 13 digs, 5 blocks
Sarah Muisenga (So.) – 12 kills, 18 digs
Frances McDonald (Jr.) – 10 kills, 3 digs
Erin Risk (Sr.) – 52 assists, 12 digs, 2 aces
Mary Claire Tuohy (Sr.) – 31 digs, 2 aces
- Saturday, Oct. 8 – Juniata College at UChicago, 3 PM