The Daily Northwestern

Volleyball: Northwestern wins three matches to claim Chicago Cup

Alana Walker strikes a ball. The sophomore middle hitter leads the team with 49 blocks on the season.

Alana Walker strikes a ball. The sophomore middle hitter leads the team with 49 blocks on the season.

Daily file photo by Katie Pach

Daily file photo by Katie Pach

Alana Walker strikes a ball. The sophomore middle hitter leads the team with 49 blocks on the season.

Peter Warren, Sports Editor

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For 12 years, Shane Davis led the Loyola men’s volleyball team onto the court at Gentile Arena as its head coach.

For the first time since April 29, 2015, Davis — who won two NCAA titles while leading the Ramblers before accepting the job as Northwestern’s volleyball coach at the end of 2015 — returned to coach at his Alma mater.

The Wildcats competed at the Chicago Cup this past weekend. Going up against city rivals UIC, DePaul and Loyola, the Wildcats (10-2) dropped only one set on their way to the tournament crown.

In their first matchup of the weekend, NU swept UIC (7-6) in three sets. The Cats held an early 15-10 lead in the first set, but the Flames went on a seven-point rally to go ahead. But a four-point stretch highlighted by two kills from sophomore middle hitter Alana Walker regained the NU lead before a four-point Cats stretch at the end of the set gave NU the 25-20 victory.

In the second set, the team teams traded blows before the Cats went on a six-point swing to take a 14-9 lead. NU did not look back as they managed to gain a lead of nine points before winning the set 25-20. Again, a major swing for the Cats proved to be the difference in the third set. NU won eight-of-nine points to flip a 7-4 deficit to a 12-8 advantage on their way to a 25-18 win.

The Cats picked up a second sweep the next day as they defeated DePaul (2-9), 25-22, 25-20 and 25-18. Walker and sophomore outside hitter Nia Robinson led the way with 13 kills each. Walker finished with no errors on her 20 attempts for a .650 attack percentage.

In the finale of the Cup, Loyola (8-4) opened its match against NU with a first-set victory. The Cats had a .167 attack percentage for the set, in which NU fell behind early and was unable to recover.

Following that first set, the Cats won three straight sets on their way to clinching the Chicago Cup title. NU hit above .300 in each of those three sets behind the outstanding performance of Robinson. The Indiana native struck 23 kills on 48 attempts with only seven errors.

After rotating through much of his roster the first few weeks of the season, Davis utilized a much shorter bench in Chicago. The Cats’ rotation featured eight players for most of the weekend. Freshman outside hitter Abryanna Cannon and junior libero Sarah Johnson did not play after picking up injuries the previous weekend.

Sophomore setter Britt Bommer also played exclusively as the setter over the weekend after splitting time with freshman setter Kiara McNulty the past two weekends. She had over 30 assists in all three games, including a career-high 51 against Loyola.

Twitter: @thepeterwarren