Des Moines, Iowa – Behind impressive play offensively by junior outside hitters Kayla Mullaney (Elmhurst, Ill./York Community) and Kelly Knudsen (Oak Lawn, Ill./Oak Lawn Community), the Saint Xavier University volleyball team went 3-1 at the Grand View University Volleyball Tournament over the weekend in Des Moines, Iowa. The Cougars defeated Benedictine College (Kan.), Dakota State University (S.D.) and Evangel University (Mo.) before falling in five sets to host Grand View Saturday. SXU now sits at 4-1 overall, the program's best start since the 2002 campaign.
In Friday's opening match against Benedictine, Mullaney led the way with 14 kills and four aces as the Cougars got the victory in just three sets by scores of 25-11, 25-14 and 25-20. Junior libero Christine Bowe (Downers Grove, Ill./Downers Grove South) was solid defensively finishing with 23 digs, while senior setter Jaclyn Major (Lockport, Ill./Lockport Township) posted 17 assists. Senior middle blocker Kim Scudder (Elmhurst, Ill./York Community) also played well for Saint Xavier with six kills and seven total blocks (six assisted). In the second match Friday, the Cougars needed four sets to put away Dakota State by scores of 25-14, 24-26, 25-17 and 25-11. Knudsen finished the match with 20 kills, eight digs and five aces. Scudder recorded 12 kills and three blocks (two solos), while junior setter Desiree Aramburu (Chicago, Ill./Radford University/Mother McAuley) tallied 42 assists and 13 digs.
Mullaney came back strong Saturday and SXU had a thrilling five-set victory over Evangel, a team receiving votes in the 2011 NAIA Volleyball Preseason Top 25 Poll. The scores of the match were 25-20, 15-25, 20-25, 25-23 and 15-13. Mullaney led the way with 22 kills, while Knudsen chipped in 14 kills. Scudder had three total blocks (two assisted) and Bowe finished with a team-high 21 digs. The tournament finale against Grand View, another team receiving votes nationally, was a heartbreaker as the Cougars won the first two sets 28-26 and 25-20, but could not close out the match dropping the final three, 13-25, 19-25 and 9-15. Mullaney posted 16 kills and 14 digs for SXU. Aramburu recorded 41 assists and Bowe tallied 15 digs.
Saint Xavier (4-1 overall) hosts its SXU Volleyball Tournament this weekend at the Shannon Center in Chicago. The Cougars open play at the tourney at 4 p.m. on Friday, September 2, with a match against Spring Arbor University (Mich.).