Women Win CCAC Tournament Advance to NAIA Tournament

Kenneth Washington

November 15th, 2017

It’s been a good week to be a Cougar. More specifically, it’s been a great week for fans of the Saint Xavier women’s volleyball team.

Over the course of the week, the team competed in, and won, all three of their tournament matchups, making them the tournament champs.

After their third game of the season, I interviewed junior middle Alex Lambros in which we talked about her recent performances and expectations for the season. After that interview, the team went on to win a record setting sixteen straight games, and a week and a half later the team are CCAC tournament champs.

If anything, I think this establishes me as the ultimate good luck charm in all of sports. All jokes aside, it was interesting looking back on Lambros’ expectations who expected a better season than last year, but didn’t even begin to imagine the possibility of competing for a NAIA championship so soon.

Tuesday, November 7 vs. St. Ambrose University

In their first matchup of the CCAC tournament, the third seeded Saint Xavier Cougars went up against the seventh seeded St. Ambrose Fighting Bee. Thankfully for the Cougars, they had won a significant number of games more than St. Ambrose, placing them in a higher seed and giving them the coveted home court advantage.

This advantage proved to be a big factor for Saint Xavier as they not only won their match against St. Ambrose, but they were also able to sweep the matchup with scores of 25-22, 25-21, and 25-17 respectively.

Set one saw the Cougars come out with head of fire going up 5-0 early. Despite the hot start, St. Ambrose was able to keep it as close as 19-19 late. With both teams tied late, the factor of the home court advantage came into effect as the Cougars made their voice heard leading to a late game service error by St. Ambrose, and a 6-3 start that sealed the win for the Cougars.

Set two was another closely contested game. Saint Xavier went on a heap of huge runs the gave them a hearty lead, but everytime they created a deficit, St. Ambrose went on a run of their own to bring the game closer.

Once again, the two teams came down to the wire as SXU led 22-20 late. When it came down to the end of the game, it was SXU once again standing out on top winning the set 25-21.

Set three would end up being the final set as SXU dominated the set and advanced in the CCAC tournament. Once again, Saint Xavier started off with a strong run propelling them to a 4-0 run early. The Cougars really used the energy of the crowd to their advantage as the team went on 3 additional runs in which they scored 4 points or more.

In the end, the St. Ambrose was unable to keep up and the Cougars took this one 25-17

Junior Rory Manion had a dominant performance in this one as she racked up twelve kills. Courtney Joyce came out to play as usual as she facilitated the offense with thirty-six assists and nine digs.

Thursday, November 9 vs. Olivet

The second seeded Saint Xavier Cougars matched up against the fifth seeded Olivet Tigers. Seeing as the Cougars had a higher seed they once again had the home court advantage which they used to garner their second win in the tournament, beating Olivet 3 sets to one with scores of 25-18, 15-25, 25-22, and 25-19 respectively.

This win didn’t only propel the team to the finals of the CCAC tournament, but also earned their place NAIA women’s volleyball championship.

The first set was very back and forward throughout, but a 6-2 late run by the Cougars propelled them to the 25-18 victory. Junior Helena Atton led the way for the Cougars in this set as she racked up 5 kills in this one alone.

A dominate showing by Atton, one that was needed for the win.

The second set saw the Tigers dominate as they won the set 25-15. Olivet’s defense was a big deciding factor in this set as they stopped nearly every scoring attempt that SXU had from coming to from. With the win, Olivet tied the matchup with both teams winning a set.

The 3rd set was the biggest set in this matchup as both teams were tied and the next team to win could go up in the matchup, and gain all of the momentum in the series. The match was closely contested throughout with the two teams coming down to the wire with both of them tied at 22.

Once again, home court energy came into play as the Cougars scored the next 3 points that ended up giving the Cougars the win, and putting them up 2-1.

The fourth and final set saw SXU closing out this one with a 25-19 set victory. Senior Kate Bontrager was a big catalyst for this Cougar offense as she had a double-double with 16 kills and 12 digs. Helena Atton was also a huge factor for this game as she racked up 12 kills and had a team high 44.4% hitting percentage.

Saturday, November 11 vs. Trinity

Their third matchup in the tournament was their most important as the Saint Xavier Cougars Matched up against the Trinity Christian Trolls for the CCAC tournament championship. The two teams went to war in this matchup, but the Cougars were able to come away with the match win with scores of 25-23, 19-25, 26-14, and 25-18 respectively.

With this being the biggest games of their lives up to this point, the Cougars didn’t fold under the pressure as 3 Cougars scored in double digits. Senior Bridget Krasowski led the Cougars with 15 kills. Junior Helena Atton added on with her continued aggressive, yet, efficient play as she had 14 kills on .500 hitting percentage. Finally, Kate Bontrager added in 13 kills.

Scoring on this team wouldn’t be possible had it not have been for senior Courtney Joyce. In this matchup the setter racked up a double-double with an impressive 55 assists and 16 digs.

Next Saturday, November 18, both Saint Xavier will compete against their first-round matchups in the NAIA women’s volleyball championship tournament. Matchups for the tournament will be determined on Monday and broadcasted on Facebook.com/PLAYNAIA.

Amazingly, this was Saint Xavier’s first CCAC tournament championship. It’s been an amazing season for the Cougars up to this point, and while the competition only gets harder from here, it’s important that the Cougar fan base continues to show support for the team as the compete for the ultimate prize.

For a recap of future events and happenings around campus, keep it locked here at the Xavierite.

Kenneth Washington

Sports Reporter

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