UIC claims Redhawks Invitational crown

Alyssa Ehrhardt

Alyssa Ehrhardt was named MVP of the Redhawks Invitational Saturday. ­(Photo: Steve Woltmann)

The Flames volleyball team (3-0) returned to Chicago as champions of the Redhawks Invitational after a straight-set win over New Orleans Saturday, 3-0 (25-17, 25-23, 26-24) during the Redhawks Invitational in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

The team also won its games on Friday during the tournament, beating Louisiana Tech, 3-2, and Southeast Missouri State University, 3-1.

UIC senior Alyssa Ehrhardt was named the tournament’s most valuable player and was joined on the Redhawks Invitational All-Tournament Team by classmates Kara Johnson and Kelsie Groot. Ehrhardt, who posted a career-high 27 kills in the season opener against Louisiana Tech Friday, finished the two-day event with 53 kills, 27 digs, eight aces and four blocks. The Algonquin native averaged a team-high 4.42 kills per set and converted at a clip of .293.

Groot, a graduate transfer from Irvine, Calif., delivered two double-doubles in UIC’s sweep of New Orleans Saturday. Groot averaged 3.58 kills and 2.58 digs per set during the Redhawks Invitational, adding five service aces and two blocks.

Johnson, a Champaign native who donned the libero jersey for the first time this weekend, was up to the challenge. The senior collected a team-high 44 digs during the tournament for an average of 3.67 per set. Johnson set a career high Friday morning when she dug out 25 attacks against Louisiana Tech. She also aided the passing game with five assists from a back-row position.

“I am proud that we had so many different people step up at key points throughout the tournament,” UIC head coach Katie Schumacher-Cawley said. “There is no way that we could have won these three matches without contributions from every player on our roster. We had people making smart, winning plays. Our seniors all brought great energy and focus, and the whole team fed off of that.”

Saturday’s win signified a milestone for Schumacher-Cawley — the 100th in her career. Now in her eighth season at the helm, the Chicago native ranks third in program history.

“When I think about reaching a number like this, I think of the players who have come through this program since I have been here that make it what it is today,” Schumacher-Cawley said. “I also have to thank the current team, the proud alums, and the assistant coaches and support staff, who have all been instrumental in the success of UIC volleyball.”

UIC takes the floor Friday against Charlotte in Jacksonville, Florida.