Season over for Cougars volleyball team
A first-round victory earned St. Xavier University’s men’s volleyball team a date with top-seeded Cardinal Stritch University in the Great Lakes Conference Tournament.
And that’s where the 2014 season ended for the Cougars, who absorbed a 25-21, 25-20, 25-18 loss against the Wolves last Friday night at Owens Community College in Perrysburg, Ohio. SXU (6-15) had advanced on the strength of a 25-23, 26-28, 25-20, 25-20 triumph over Siena Heights (Mich.) University earlier that same day.
Senior outside hitter Justin Cousin and sophomore middle blocker Sam Kull — the latter of whom was chosen as an all-conference first-teamer prior to the tourney — were the Cougars’ mainstays. Their combined efforts against Siena Heights resulted in 27 kills and eight total blocks, five of which were solos. Cousin augmented his 17 kills and two blocks with a couple of service aces.
Other contributors for SXU included freshmen Sean Barry (13 kills) and Moises Lopez (40 assists, seven digs, three total blocks). The Cougars finished with 52 kills and 21 hitting errors, which produced a team attack percentage of .267.
Cousin put down 12 more kills in Friday’s second match and Kull had 10, but those weren’t enough to keep SXU from falling short of Stritch. Kull also recorded two blocks, one of them a solo.
Barry (six kills, seven digs), senior middle blocker J.T. O’Connell (five kills, two assisted blocks) and Lopez (29 assists) were other principal figures for the Cougars, who also landed one athlete on the All-Great Lakes Conference academic team. Freshman outside hitter Anthony Huang filled that spot.
SXU closed out its regular-season schedule last Wednesday versus NCAA Division III No. 12-ranked Lakeland (Wis.) College, which registered a 25-16, 25-22, 25-27, 25-18 win in Sheboygan.
Cousin paced the Cougars with 13 kills, 11 digs and two assisted blocks, while Kull pitched in with 11 kills, four total blocks and a pair of aces. Lopez (31 assists, two assisted blocks), O’Connell (four kills, two assisted blocks) and Barry (five kills, two total blocks) also lent a hand for SXU, which hurt itself with 20 serving errors.
Braving cold and windy conditions, the Cougars played in their initial Midwestern tournament of the spring last weekend when they took part in the University of St. Francis Spring Invitational at Prairie Bluff Golf Course in Lockport.
SXU was sixth in the eight-team event with an overall score of 779, which was built on rounds of 401 and 378. NAIA No. 14-ranked Bethel (Ind.) College topped the field with its 649 total.
Freshman Taylor Thompson was the Cougars’ top individual finisher as she tied for ninth place after firing a two-day total of 171 (82-89). Freshman Katie Reno (180; 90-90) tied for the 22nd position, freshman Courtney Dudgeon (182; 96-86) tied for 25th and freshman Ashley Anderson (246; 133-113) was 41st.
“I think these ladies handled the cold elements very well, [seeing] as it’s been a long winter with very little opportunity to practice or play outside on grass before the tournament,” SXU coach Mike Mandakas said. “I’m looking forward to our next tournament as our young team continues to grow and improve.”
On tap for the Cougars is the Bethel College Spring Invitational, which will be held at Blackthorn Golf Course in South Bend, Ind., April 11 and 12.
After opening a three-game series against Judson University with a 4-2 victory on Saturday in Jacksonville, Ill., the Cougars suffered a pair of defeats, both of them by slim margins. The Eagles notched a 5-3 win in Game 2 of Saturday’s Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference doubleheader, then placed SXU on the short end of an 8-7 outcome on Sunday.
Senior Scott Vachon logged the pitching win for the Cougars (6-15, 1-2) as he scattered seven hits over seven innings, struck out five and walked only two. SXU took the lead for good in the bottom of the third, when pinch hitter Thomas Hayes poked a two-run single to set the final margin.
Senior Brad Myjak belted a two-RBI double in the first inning, which staked the Cougars to a 2-1 advantage. Judson pulled even in the top of third on a single, but that tie lasted just a half-inning.
Sophomore Jim Augle and freshman Bryan Polak both went 2-for-4 with a run scored for SXU in Saturday’s second contest, but the Cougars couldn’t overcome a 5-1 deficit that Judson established by the fifth frame. Hayes’ two-run single in the seventh narrowed the gap, but that was as close as SXU would come.
Myjak’s groundout chased in the Cougars’ initial marker in the third stanza. Senior Chris Klein took the loss on the hill after surrendering nine hits over a six-inning stint.
Augle and Polak both continued their hot hitting on Sunday, as each stroked three hits. That offense helped SXU construct a 7-4 edge, which it carried into the bottom of the eighth. However, the Eagles tallied once in the eighth and three times in the ninth to snatch a potential victory away from the Cougars.
Sophomore Alec Barnhart scored three times for SXU, while Bryan Villanova finished with a pair of hits and two runs. Freshman Adrian Luna was tagged with the pitching loss in relief of Dan Wetzel, who fanned five and allowed seven hits over the first seven innings.
The Cougars were scheduled to meet the University of St. Francis in another CCAC encounter this past Tuesday at Richard R. Ferrell Field.
SXU women’s basketball coach Bob Hallberg will host his annual basketball camp for girls aged 7-15 the week of June 16-20 at the Shannon Center.
Sessions will run from 1:30-4 p.m. daily. Participants will be grouped according to age and ability, and Hallberg will actively teach each day. SXU assistant coaches and players will also be on hand to instruct campers.
The cost is $135 per individual, and includes a camp T-shirt. Enrollment is on a first-come, first-served basis. Applications are available through the SXU athletic department or online at www.sxucougars.com under the “summer camps” link.
For more information, call Laura Kurzeja at (773) 298-3785.