While the new school year is now in full swing, St. Xavier University’s volleyball team recently earned one last honor associated with the year that ended in May.
And this one didn’t have anything to do with on-court exploits. Rather, the 2012-13 Cougars were feted for their classroom work by being chosen as a recipient of the American Volleyball Coaches Association Team Academic Award.
To be eligible for the honor, a program had to carry a cumulative grade-point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. For the previous school year, SXU volleyball players compiled a 3.511 GPA.
“We had a very hard-working group of young ladies last year, and they were focused just as hard on their studies as they were on success on the court,” Cougars coach Bob Heersema said. “This is a special type of award because it showcases the tremendous balance that our team had in order to excel in both areas. We also had great senior leadership last year, and many of those seniors have already translated their academic successes into promising careers.”
Founded in 1981, the AVCA seeks to advance the sport of volleyball and its coaches. Based out of Lexington, Ky., the organization has over 6,200 members and works to serve volleyball coaches in both high schools and colleges across the nation.
MEN’S CROSS COUNTRY
After seeing their season-opener rained out, the Cougars finally took off running last Friday at Aspen Ridge Golf Course in Bourbonnais, where they competed in the 12-school Midwest Classic, an event hosted by Olivet Nazarene University.
With senior Brian Corcoran (Brother Rice) giving it a 15th-place individual finish, SXU wound up fourth overall in the team standings. Corcoran timed out in 16 minutes, 56.15 seconds for 8K.
Next down the chute for the Cougars was senior Chris Shellenberger, who clocked a 27:02.57 and landed four spots in back of Corcoran. SXU’s remaining points came from a pack of runners, as Stagg graduate Chris Sarna (27:21.44), senior Brian Meyer (27:22.78) and Shepard alumnus Abel Hernandez (27:28.45) occupied the 26th, 28th and 30th positions, respectively, in a 128-runner field.
Junior Kyle Counter was right behind Hernandez, placing 32nd in 27:34.90. Rounding out the Cougars’ lineup were senior Shane Kenney (44th in 28:19.89) and sophomore Eric Hancock (46th, 28:30.71).
“It is difficult to assess this race overall,” SXU coach Ed McAllister said. “On one level, I do not see this as a great race for us. But on the other hand, there were so many bright spots and unanswered questions that I need to wait a week to truly give a fair analysis of how this team performed.
“Brian Meyer did very well in his first Cougar outing, as did Kyle Counter, [who is] back after basically a full year’s absence due to injury. Shellenberger and Sarna both ran well, and Abel Hernandez was solid in his first collegiate race.
“I guess we’ll just have to wait until [later] to get a better picture of just what this team possesses.”
SXU will compete in the Illinois Intercollegiate Championship on Friday at Aspen Ridge. The annual event has been split into two separate meets for the first time, with all of Illinois’ non-NCAA Division I colleges gathering in Bourbonnais for a 5:45 p.m. start.
WOMEN’S CROSS COUNTRY
The Cougars women’s squad also got its season underway at Aspen Ridge last Friday, where junior Leslie Rosario’s 22nd-place showing highlighted SXU’s appearance at the Midwest Classic.
Behind Rosario, who completed her 5K run in 20:11.69, the Cougars took sixth with 138 team points. Freshman Dana Martin (Marist) followed Rosario down the chute in the 24th position, finishing the race in 20:28.38.
Other scorers for the Cougars were freshman Nicole Watkins (25th in 20:41.54), junior Ali Proffitt (33rd, 21:25.83) and sophomore Ann Kolker (34th, 21:32.38).
SXU resumes action on Friday, Sept. 20, when it competes in the National Catholic Championships in South Bend.
Paced by a ninth-place individual finish from senior Brendan Ryan (Shepard), the Cougars were sixth among 19 schools at last weekend’s Cropper Golf Classic in Marion, Iowa. Mount Mercy University hosted the tournament at Hunters Ridge Golf Course.
Ryan fired a two-over-par 74 in Saturday’s opening round and followed that up with a 75 on Sunday for a two-day total of 149. SXU rode Ryan’s effort to an overall team score of 618 (304-314).
The Cougars were 21 strokes off the winning pace set by AIB College of Business.
Senior James Kerr wound up three shots in arrears of Ryan after carding a 71 and 81. His 152 total put Kerr in a tie for 18th in a 110-golfer field. Junior Kyle Bahnick (156; 77-79) and senior Kirby Brown (161; 82-79) completed SXU’s scoring while tying for the 35th and 58th positions, respectively.
Sophomore Zack Trent also participated on the Cougars’ behalf and compiled a two-round total of 167 (78-89), good for 86th place.
SXU resumes play on Sunday at the Benedictine University Fall Invitational. The one-day tourney will be held at St. Andrew’s Golf Course and Country Club in West Chicago.
Entering this past Tuesday’s home match with Goshen College, the Cougars were still in search of that elusive first victory of the season.
SXU suffered its fourth consecutive setback last Wednesday in Grand Rapids, Mich,, where Aquinas College notched a 4-0 triumph at AQ Athletic Field. The Cougars came up short despite bettering the Saints in number of shots taken (14-13). Junior forward Lorenzo Savino accounted for five of the locals’ total.
However, only six of SXU’s attempts went on goal — two of those came from Savino — compared to nine for Aquinas, and the latter capitalized fully in the first 25 minutes. The Saints tallied three times during that span to seize command of the proceedings.
Senior midfielder Jonathan Spencer was Aquinas’ main man as he found the back of the net in the 10th and 25th minutes. Four minutes prior to his second goal, sophomore forward midfielder Aldony Mendez produced one for the Saints.
Senior midfielder Mitch Torres accounted for Aquinas’ final marker in the 89th minute, as well as being credited with assists on two of the earlier goals. Cougars keeper AJ Pfatschbacher made three saves in the contest.
Sophomore forward Lexi Cozzi’s goal in the 59th minute briefly created a 1-1 tie, but host Grace College snapped it just three minutes later and held on for a 2-1 victory over the Cougars Saturday afternoon in Winona Lake, Ind.
All three of the match goals came in the second half, with Cozzi’s occurring on a breakaway after she intercepted a Lancers pass. Grace sandwiched that score with tallies by freshman forward Meredith Hollar and sophomore forward Mallory Rondeau in the 48th and 62nd minutes, respectively. Senior forward Emily Hickerson set up Hollar’s marker.
SXU freshman keeper Alex Perry was stellar between the pipes as she registered 16 saves. The Lancers’ 18 shots on goal were part of a 34-shot barrage, while the Cougars managed only eight total shots, half of which were on target.
A go-ahead goal by freshman forward Mariana Hoerr near the end of the first half gave the Cougars the lead for good as they went on defeat the University of St. Francis (Ind.) 3-1 this past Monday in Fort Wayne.
Hoerr’s goal, which came off a header in the 42nd minute, was set up by senior midfielder Molly Sheehan’s nicely placed corner kick. That tally broke a 1-1 tie.
SXU (2-2-1) drew first blood right away on junior midfielder Danielle Inzinga’s unassisted marker in the seventh minute. That lead lasted only six minutes, though, as USF notched the equalizer on a shot by freshman forward Nicole Stephen, who pounced on a ball that had deflected off Perry.
Junior midfielder Cassie Pullia finally gave the Cougars some breathing room near the end of the match, when she intercepted a pass and nailed an unassisted goal. Perry stopped 10 USF shots in the win, her third double-digit-save performance of the year.
SXU travels to Adrian, Mich., on Saturday for a match against Siena Heights University.
In the aftermath of the Cougars’ memorable 31-24 overtime victory over defending NAIA national champion Marian University Saturday night, two SXU players were recognized with weekly awards.
Beyond Sports Network named kicker Spencer Nolen as the NAIA National Punter of the Week after the senior averaged 49.4 yards on five kicks. Two of his boots traveled over 50 yards, including a 57-yarder that he unloaded while kicking from his own end zone.
Senior linebacker Zach Dolph was tabbed as both the NAIA and Mid-States Football Association Midwest League Defensive Player of the Week after recording 15 total tackles versus Marian. In addition, Dolph had 1½ sacks, broke up a pass and forced a fumble.
As a junior, Dolph set a Cougars single-season standard with 128 total tackles. He was the NAIA’s National Defensive Player of the Week once last season.