CHICAGO – Sophomore middle hitter Marie Hackert (Evansville, Ind./Reitz Memorial) posted eight kills and team-best four total blocks (one solo) as the No. 2 seeded Saint Xavier University volleyball team defeated No. 3 seed Trinity Christian College (Ill.) Thursday night in the semifinals of the 2012 Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) Volleyball Tournament at the Shannon Center in Chicago. The Cougars took the match in three sets by scores of 25-17, 25-20 and 27-25. SXU was motivated for this match-up since the Trolls defeated the Cougars at the Shannon Center in last year's tournament semifinals ending their season at 30-5 overall and dashing any chance at a national tournament bid. With tonight's victory and the win by No. 1 seed University of St. Francis (Ill.) against No. 4 seed Cardinal Stritch University (Wis.) earlier this evening, Saint Xavier is guaranteed a national bid regardless of the outcome of Saturday's tourney championship.
Senior outside hitter Kayla Mullaney (Elmhurst, Ill./York Community) finished with 10 kills for the Cougars, while senior outside hitter Kelly Knudsen (Oak Lawn, Ill./Oak Lawn Community) chipped in nine kills and seven digs. Senior setter Desiree Aramburu (Chicago, Ill./Radford University/Mother McAuley) led SXU with 36 assists and two service aces on the night, while senior libero Christine Bowe (Downers Grove, Ill./Downers Grove South) had another solid defensive effort with a match-best 21 digs. Senior middle blocker Colleen O'Hara (Lemont, Ill./University of Iowa/Lemont) and freshman right side Meghan Falsey (Schaumburg, Ill./Schaumburg) tallied seven kills and two block assists apiece for the Cougars as well. Sophomore defensive specialist Dominique Aramburu (Chicago, Ill./UIC/Mother McAuley) also shined for SXU with 17 digs. Junior outside hitter Kaitlin Feddema led the Trolls with eight kills, while senior middle hitter Betsy Holman posted five kills and team-best five blocks (one solo).
Saint Xavier came out strong going ahead, 5-0, in the opening set and leading by as many as eight points en route to the 25-17 win. The second set was more of the same as SXU built an 11-5 lead and never trailed after that to take the set, 25-20. The third set was a much closer affair as the two teams battled back and forth and Trinity Christian looked poised to force a fourth set leading 24-21 late. However, a surge by the Cougars powered by a kill from Marie Hackert and an ace by Desiree Aramburu gave SXU new life and Falsey ended the match with back-to-back kills.
Saint Xavier (31-11 overall/18-1 CCAC) heads to Joliet, Ill., on Saturday, November 10, for the CCAC Tournament championship match against the No. 1 seed University of St. Francis (Ill.) Fighting Saints. The start time for Saturday's championship match is 7 p.m.
Click below to get some post-match reactions from some of the Saint Xavier seniors...