CHICAGO – For the first time in program history, the University of Chicago volleyball team will play for a regional championship.
The No. 2-ranked Maroons completed their second-straight sweep in the 2019 NCAA Division III Tournament on Saturday, this time blanking Otterbein University by scores of 25-21, 27-25, 25-21, to capture a win in the Second Round.
The victory broke the spell of NCAA Second Round losses for the Maroons, who had reached that mark four times before – including last year's early exit at home in a five-set loss to Aurora – and propelled UChicago into Sunday's 2 p.m. final. There, the Maroons will take on No. 4 Carthage College, a five-set winner over Claremont-Mudd-Scripps.
Sophomore Temilade Adekoya had another stellar game to lead the Maroon offense on Saturday, as the outside swung for 11 kills at a .294 clip to go along with 15 digs. Five of her kills came in the clinching third set.
Seniors Madison Pearson (.389) and Anne Marie Stifter added nine kills each and Emma Griffith delivered 25 assists, five kills and seven digs as the engineer of the UChicago offense. The defense was also strong, as the Maroons totaled 12 block assists – rookie Ellie Alden led the way with five – and two solo stops compared to four block assists and three solos by the Cardinals (26-7).
UChicago controlled the first set largely due to an efficient .361 attack percentage, led by four kills each from Pearson, Adekoya and Fredericka Paulson. Otterbein threatened in the second frame when UChicago seemed to be in control once again, up 17-13.
But the Cardinals fought for five-straight points and the set stood tied at 18, 19, 20, 21, and 22 before an Alden block made it set point, 24-22, for the Maroons. Otterbein had more life left with two more straight points, but a kill each by Griffith and Stifter helped set up the winning play, a block assist from Alden and Paulson to end the set and send the Maroons up, 2-0.
Set 3 was also close – it was tied at 19-all late – but two kills by Stifter and two more block assists from the duo of Paulson and Alden held off any chance for the Cardinals to extend the match.
UChicago finished .206 for the match compared to .142 for the Cardinals, who were led by Ohio Athletic Conference Player of the Year Tate Eppard (13 kills).
Sunday will mark the second time this season UChicago and Carthage will have played: The Maroons defeated the Lady Reds by a 3-1 score back on Oct. 15.
- Sunday, Nov. 17: Carthage at UChicago (NCAA Regional Final), 2 p.m. CT