CHICAGO - Saint Xavier University sophomore outside hitter Kayla Mullaney (Elmhurst, Ill./York Community) has continually proven this season why she is one of the top offensive players in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC), but Thursday night she took her play to another level. Behind Mullaney's impressive outing, the Cougars pulled off a major semifinals upset knocking off No. 1 seed Olivet Nazarene University (Ill.), the CCAC Tournament champions the last five seasons, in four sets by scores of 25-19, 25-11, 17-25 and 25-23. Mullaney finished with a match-best 19 kills and an attack percentage of .295. ONU ends its season with a 22-15 overall record.
The SXU offense seemed to be in perfect sync for most of Thursday's match racking up 52 kills to only 14 attack errors. The focused play led to an early two-set lead in the match as the Cougars pulled away late in the night's first set and carried the momentum into set two to win by a 14-point margin. SXU junior setter Jaclyn Major (Lockport, Ill./Lockport Township) recorded 46 assists and 11 digs in the match, while sophomore libero Christine Bowe (Downers Grove, Ill./Downers Grove South) was stellar on the defensive front with a match-best 17 digs. Junior middle blocker Kim Scudder (Elmhurst, Ill./York Community) was equally impressive for the Cougars posting 14 kills to just one attack error (.650 attack percentage) to go along with three block assists. Senior Tara Schmidt led the Tigers offensively Thursday recording 17 kills, while junior middle blocker Molly Goldbach chipped in 11 kills.
Saint Xavier (22-13 overall/7-4 CCAC) will face off against No. 2 seed Trinity Christian College (Ill.) for the CCAC Tournament championship on Saturday, November 13. The start time has yet to be released by host Trinity Christian, but the match will take place in Palos Heights, Ill. Win or lose Saturday, the Cougars have already earned one of the two automatic berths for the 2010 NAIA Volleyball Championship, which begins with opening round play on Sunday, November 21. It will mark their first appearance at the national tournament since 2000.