CHICAGO – Senior outside hitter Kelly Knudsen (Oak Lawn, Ill./Oak Lawn Community) continued right where she left off Friday night helping lead Saint Xavier University to two more wins in the SXU/Trinity Christian College Crossover Volleyball Tournament Saturday at the Shannon Center in Chicago. The Cougars took down Siena Heights University (Mich.) in four sets (25-27, 25-7, 25-20, 25-21) in the early match and followed that effort with a three-set win (25-23, 25-19, 25-20) in a non-conference match-up with Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) rival University of St. Francis (Ill.) that afternoon. Knudsen combined for 27 kills, 18 digs, four service aces and four total blocks (one solo) on the day to help SXU improve its record to 7-1 overall.
The Cougars got off to a slow start against Siena Heights and fell behind early in the match after dropping the opening set, 25-27. However, the team quickly got its focus back and, after jumping out to a 10-6 lead in the second set, Knudsen served 13 straight points, including four aces, to extend the lead to 24-6. Saint Xavier had little trouble pulling away in the third and fourth sets as well and took the match behind Knudsen's 18 kills and 12 digs. Senior setter Desiree Aramburu (Chicago, Ill./Radford University/Mother McAuley) finished with 44 assists in the day's opener, while senior libero Christine Bowe (Downers Grove, Ill./Downers Grove South) posted a team-high 22 digs. Sophomore middle hitter Marie Hackert (Evansville, Ind./Reitz Memorial) was a force defensively leading the way with eight total blocks (one solo).
SXU kept its foot on the gas for its second match of the day against University of St. Francis (Ill.). Senior outside hitter Kayla Mullaney (Elmhurst, Ill./York Community) and freshman right side Meghan Falsey (Schaumburg, Ill./Schaumburg) were key to the attack recording 12 and 10 kills, respectively. Knudsen was tough as well with nine kills. Aramburu tallied 35 assists and eight digs, while Bowe had another impressive defensive effort with a team-best 20 digs. The Cougars jumped out to a 9-1 lead in the first set, but nearly lost a late 24-19 lead as USF rattled off four straight points before a kill by Mullaney ended the set, 25-23. SXU did not make the same mistake again holding onto an 18-11 lead in the second set and a 16-10 advantage in the deciding set.
Saint Xavier (7-1 overall) returns to CCAC play on Thursday, September 6, with a match against Cardinal Stritch University (Wis.) in Milwaukee. The match is slated for a 7 p.m. start.