CHICAGO – Behind the stellar play of junior outside hitters Kayla Mullaney (Elmhurst, Ill./York Community) and Kelly Knudsen (Oak Lawn, Ill./Oak Lawn Community), the No. 25 ranked Saint Xavier University volleyball team defeated Cardinal Stritch University (Wis.) in Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) action Tuesday night at the Shannon Center in Chicago. The Cougars (22-3 overall) took the match in four tight sets by scores of 25-20, 22-25, 25-23 and 25-22. It is the seventh straight victory for SXU and keeps the team in a first-place tie with Olivet Nazarene University atop the conference standings at 9-1.
Mullaney and Knudsen each finished with double-digit totals in both kills and digs on the night. Mullaney posted 13 kills and 12 digs, while Knudsen had 13 kills and 13 digs to go along with five total blocks (one solo, four assists). Senior setter Jaclyn Major (Lockport, Ill./Lockport Township) set things up offensively for Saint Xavier finishing with 35 assists and two service aces in the match. Junior libero Christine Bowe (Downers Grove, Ill./Downers Grove South) scooped up a team-best 20 digs for SXU, while junior middle blocker Colleen O'Hara (Lemont, Ill./University of Iowa/Lemont) was a force at the net recording a match-best eight blocks (one solo, seven assists).
In the first set, the two teams went back-and-forth exchanging leads before Saint Xavier went ahead, 18-15, on a kill by senior middle blocker Kim Scudder (Elmhurst, Ill./York Community). Key attack errors by Stritch along with late kills by Knudsen and O'Hara gave the Cougars the 25-20 decision. With the score tied 16-16 in the second set, the Wolves rattled off six straight points to take control and hang on for the 25-22 win. The third set was another tight one, but SXU capitalized on two service errors and an attacking error by CSU to capture its final three points and take the set, 25-23. The Cougars jumped out to an early 7-1 lead in the fourth set, but the Wolves fought back and tied things up, 16-16. SXU kept its composure and capped the match with a kill by Knudsen to take the set, 25-22.
Saint Xavier (22-3 overall/9-1 CCAC) heads to Clinton, Iowa, on Thursday, October 20, for a non-conference battle against NAIA foe Ashford University (Iowa). The road match is scheduled for a 7 p.m. start.