The Loyola women’s volleyball team (7-6) finished the Chicago Cup — its final non-conference tournament — with a record of 2-1.
The Chicago Cup was a four-team tournament between local schools Sept. 20-21 at DePaul University. The Ramblers won in five sets against Northwestern University Sept. 20 and carried that momentum towards a 3-1 victory over DePaul University Sept. 21. However, University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) swept Loyola Sept. 21.
Last year, Loyola hosted the Chicago Cup. The Ramblers went 1-2 in that tournament, losing to both Northwestern and UIC.
“In the tournament as a whole, I thought we saw some really great things,” Loyola head coach Amanda Berkley said. “In [the match against UIC], we got to learn a lot of things, so I think that was a benefit for us to get ready for conference [play]. We also saw some really great play, in general, throughout the tournament.”
For the weekend, first-year outside hitter Addy Barnes led the Ramblers with 3.42 kills per set and also contributed 2.50 digs per set. Redshirt senior defensive specialist Maddy Moser led Loyola in digs, averaging 4.42 per set.
Moser explained defense has many different components and requires the entire team to do their part. She said defense starts with the blockers at the net.
“Our team this year has really stepped up its defense all around,” Moser said. “The block sets up good seams, so the defense can read [where the ball will go]. It’s really a team effort getting those digs.”
Loyola was the only team to beat Northwestern in the Chicago Cup. The Wildcats came in with a 7-2 record and swept both UIC and DePaul in the tournament. Against Loyola Sept. 20, Northwestern took the first set, but Loyola bounced back to win the next two sets. The Wildcats dominated the fourth set to prolong the game, but Loyola edged out a 17-15 win in the fifth set to take the game.
Loyola beat a Northwestern squad coached by Shane Davis, who used to coach the Loyola men’s volleyball team. Davis helped lead the Ramblers to back-to-back NCAA Tournament championships in 2014 and 2015.
This was the Ramblers’ second win over Northwestern in history, and the first since 2008. The victory snaps a five-game losing streak against the Wildcats. Berkley said a win over Northwestern was big for the team’s confidence.
“I think [beating Northwestern] was huge for our team morale,” Berkley said. “Our team responded really well, especially when we got pushed in that [match]. We were able to push back and it was really cool to see.”
In the first game of Saturday’s double header, Loyola put away DePaul in four sets, including a 10-point victory in the first set. DePaul took the second set, but Loyola won the third and fourth sets by a two and six points, respectively, to seal the match victory.
The Blue Demons entered the tournament at 8-1, but lost all three of their matches in the Chicago Cup. Despite hosting the tournament and coming in with such a strong record, DePaul managed to only win a single set in the tournament.
After the 12:30 p.m. first serve against DePaul, the Ramblers faced off against UIC at 5:30 p.m. Berkley said this short turnaround wasn’t a factor in the team’s performance.
“It actually seemed like a long time in between [games],” Berkley said. “We probably would’ve preferred to play right away. It wasn’t a huge deal, we’ve seen a lot of [tournament] schedules this season.”
Loyola got swept by UIC, but lost the three sets by a combined seven points. The Ramblers were unable to overcome the Flames’ frontline, as UIC had 12 blocks to Loyola’s six blocks.
“I thought [UIC’s] passing and defense was really good,” Berkley said following the loss. “It was almost like it was easy for them to score, but they made it really hard for us to score. … For some reason, we struggle with UIC so we’re going to hopefully learn from it.”
The loss to UIC marks Loyola’s third straight loss against the Flames, including going just 1-9 in the past 10 games against the Flames. The win improves the Flames’ record to 11-3 on the season.
Next, Loyola is scheduled to start conference play against Valparaiso University Sept. 27 at Gentile Arena. First serve is set for 6 p.m. and the game will be broadcasted on ESPN+.