Lab School volleyball

The University of Chicago Lab School varsity volleyball team after their IHSA regional championship win Thursday night, Oct. 27, 2022.

The University of Chicago Lab School varsity volleyball team won their fourth straight IHSA regional championship last night, Oct. 27 against King College Prep (25-9).With one of the best winning seasons (27-3) in the program’s 58-year history, the Maroons are headed to Sectionals.

After a rocky season opener with a loss to Tinley Park High School (two matches to one) on Aug. 22, they made a strong comeback with a subsequent seven game winning streak. The season continued in similar fashion: losses, which are far and few between, followed by a strong and sustained comeback. 

The U. of C. Lab School’s varsity volleyball team has been a strong competitor for the last few years. As reigning conference champions for the past two seasons, head coach Lisa Miller said this year’s team is surpassing her expectations.

“They all are talented players who work hard and are very coachable,” said Miller. “They are passionate about the game of volleyball, they are good to each other as teammates… Many of them play club and dedicate themselves to improving their skills and volleyball IQs in the off-season.”

The team is so far undefeated (9-0) in the Independent School League, which comprises nine private secondary schools in the Chicago metro area. 

Miller's roster is filled with phenomenal players who have exceptional skills and talent. On offense, senior middle blocker Audrey Matei is currently leading her team in total blocks (53) and a hitting percentage – net points gained per swing – of 0.373. Junior outside hitter and setter Ella Cohen-Richie averages 3.3 kills and 1.1 aces per set – the most on the team – and has a total of 70 serving aces. She also holds 221 kills. Junior co-captain and setter Emily Brennan also leads the team in assists, with 587 this season. 

On defense, junior libero Santana Romero has the most digs on the Maroons with 113, along with 233 total receptions. Romero averages 1.9 digs per set.

"We have talent, depth, and versatility at all positions," Miller said. "This team is any coach's dream for that reason alone."

She attributed much of the team’s success this year to the number of returning players. 

"We did not lose any of our consistent starters," Miller said. Compared to last season’s team, she added, "The difference is one more year of club experience and one more season of playing together. We have developed a stronger culture of winning which means we believe in ourselves and in what we are capable of achieving."

After winning last night’s championship game, the Maroons are now headed to Sectionals. Miller said the team hopes for a long-awaited rematch against Southwest Chicago Christian High School, who knocked them out of sectionals last year.

"We are confident, but not at all cocky," Miller stated. "We continue to laugh and be silly and have fun, but we also remain focused and serious about playing hard and being super competitive."

The Maroons' next game is a Sectional Semi-Final against Beecher High School on Monday, Oct. 31 at 7 p.m. at North Lawndale College Prep, 1313 S. Sacramento Dr.

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