From Staff Reports
Saint Xavier women's volleyball head coach Bob Heersema reached a milestone on Sept. 29 as the Cougars upset No. 18-ranked Georgetown (Ky.) in straight sets, 25-19, 25-23, 25-20.
The win was the 700th in Heersema's 31-year career at Saint Xavier, becoming the seventh active NAIA head coach to reach the 700-win mark.
Seniors Helena Atton (Midland, Mich.) and Rory Manion (Elmhurst) led the Cougars (12-6) with 12 kills each in the win over Georgetown (12-4), then combined for 24 more kills as the Cougars picked up a three-set win over Taylor (Ind.) in the afternoon, 25-22, 25-13, 25-16.
Freshman setter Cassidy Wyman (Mokena) tallied a combined 66 assists over six sets of work while also serving up eight aces.
Tied at 11-11 in the opening set with Georgetown, Atton and Kate Bontrager (Valparaiso) picked up back-to-back kills as part of a quick 3-0 run to take the lead. The Cougars would side out on seven of the next eight Georgetown serves to hold onto their advantage, finishing the set with four of the last five points.
In game two, the Tigers would build an early 6-2 lead, but Saint Xavier came back, beginning with a kill and two straight aces from Bontrager to start a 13-2 run, going in front 15-8. Georgetown put together a 6-1 rally of their own later in the set to take an 18-17 lead, but then it was Wyman who put up two straight aces, giving the Cougars a 20-18 lead. After Georgetown responded with five of the next six points at 23-21, kills from Atton and Manion, along with a Grace Murphy (Tinley Park) ace closed out the set with four straight, winning 25-23.
The Cougars again found themselves trailing early, 10-3 in game three. Alex Lambros's (Oak Forest) ace tied the score at 12-12, capping a 9-2 run. A stretch of 10 out of 12 points would put the game out of reach, highlighted by kills from Sara Wellbaum (Indianapolis), Atton, Bontrager and Manion, and the Cougars would go back in front, 22-16. Manion's kill at 25-20 would finish the match, giving the Cougars their second win over a nationally-ranked opponent this season.
In the second match of the day against Taylor, the Cougars trailed 11-10 in the first set, but used a run of four straight points, and six of seven, to lead 16-12. The Trojans (8-12) would pull to within a point at 21-22, but Saint Xavier scored three of the last four points to win the opener before taking dominant wins in sets two and three.
Taking on a pair of tough opponents to open the Holiday Inn Express Invite hosted by Olivet Nazarene, Saint Xavier volleyball suffered a pair of defeats, falling to No. 3 Columbia (Mo.) in straight sets before going down in four sets to Grace (Ind.) later in the day.
Manion would lead the team with eight kills against Columbia (18-1), while Bontrager and Atton both collected 14 kills against Grace (14-5). Wyman put together a combined 64 assists over seven sets. Emily Meyer's nine digs paced the Cougars in the first match, while Murphy had a team-high 19 digs in the nightcap.
The Cougars trailed throughout all three sets with Columbia, dropping all three sets 25-17, 25-20, 25-16.
Against the Lancers, Saint Xavier played a much closer game, beginning with the opening set. A 7-1 run late in game one would give the Cougars a 19-18 advantage thanks to three kills from Atton, and back-to-back aces from Wyman. The Lancers responded with six in a row, taking the first set 25-20.
The Cougars would get the late rally in game two to even the match. Trailing 20-19, Saint Xavier benefitted from five straight Grace errors to take a 24-20 lead. Bontrager's kill at 25-21 tied the match at one set apiece.
Trailing 17-10 in game three, a Jessica Belseth (Eisenhower HS / Merionette Park, Ill.) kill and Mayer ace started an 8-2 run, allowing the Cougars to take a lead at 19-18. The Lancers would retake control however, scoring six of the final seven points to win game three 25-19.
In game four, a decisive 7-2 run for Grace would be just enough to hold off a late push from Saint Xavier. Trailing 24-19, the Cougars fended off five match points to tie the score at 24-24. The Cougars would come up just short through, as Grace would pull out the match with the last two points, winning 26-24.
Milestone for Manion
Manion, a senior hitter who came to the Cougars via Florida Atlantic, made Saint Xavier volleyball history on Sept. 25, recording her 1,000th career kill as the Cougars earned a straight-set victory over the Cardinal Stritch Wolves, 25-17, 25-20, 25-16.
Manion came into the match needing 11 kills to reach the 1,000-kill mark, and earned exactly that to lead all hitters on the night. She recorded her 11th kill on the next-to-last play of the match, setting up match point as the Cougars (10-4, 5-0 CCAC) scored the last three points to close out the win.
Cardinal Stritch would lead early in game two, with four of the first five points, but the Cougars would come right back, tying the game at 5-5 on a kill from Lambros. Tied 11-11, the Cougars would start to pull away with six of the next seven points, as Corbett's ace gave SXU a 17-12 advantage, and Saint Xavier would hold onto the lead the rest of the way.
Wyman led the Cougars with 24 assists in the win. Manion and Mother McAuley alum Emily Mayer collected a team-high eight digs.
A pair of goals in an eight-minute span was the difference on Sept. 29, as Saint Xavier women's soccer won their third straight match at home, 3-0 over the visiting Judson Eagles.
The Cougars (4-5-1, 3-1 CCAC) took a total of eight shots in the first half, but were unable to get on the scoreboard until the 57th minute, when Alyssa Gilman (Oak Forest HS / Oak Forest, Ill.) scored off of Shelby Bishop (Plainfield South HS / Plainfield, Ill.)'s corner kick. Bishop assisted on the next goal as well, finding Yasmine Matthews (Oak Forest HS / Oak Forest, Ill.) in the 65th minute for her first career goal.
Saint Xavier's defense would hold off any response from the Eagles (2-8, 1-3 CCAC), who would have just two more shots over the final 25 minutes. Goalkeeper Ashley Smialek recorded her second shutout of the season, finishing with two saves on the day.
Freshman Kimberly Marquez (Burbank) put the game away for good, scoring her team-leading fifth goal of the year with just three seconds left on the clock. Karina Saucedo earned an assist on the play, finding Marquez in the box with a long pass from 40 yards from goal.
The Cougars will look to continue the momentum next Saturday, when they travel to Arlington Heights, Ill. and take on Robert Morris. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:30 pm.
A tough trip north for Saint Xavier women's soccer resulted in a 6-1 loss at the hands of the Cardinal Stritch Wolves on Tuesday afternoon.
Sophomore Shelby Bishop would score the lone goal for the Cougars (3-5-1, 2-1 CCAC), but the score would come after the Wolves (6-2, 2-1 CCAC) had already built a 5-0 advantage.
A key 12-minute stretch in the first half would be the difference, as the home side would put away four goals between the 16th and 28th minutes. After adding in one more to start the second half, Bishop would record her team-leading fourth goal of the season in the 63rd minute. Bishop now has a goal in each of the Cougars' last four matches.
Goalkeeper Ashley Smialek set a new career high with 12 saves in the match, as Saint Xavier struggled to maintain possession and were out-shot 28-3 on the day.
All tied up after a high-scoring first half, Saint Xavier were unable to keep up with the visitors, surrendering three goals after the break in a 5-2 loss to Judson on Saturday afternoon.
A combined four goals were scores in the game's opening 24 minutes, beginning with the Eagles (5-3-3, 2-1-1 CCAC) score in the 9th minute. Saint Xavier (4-7, 1-3 CCAC) would respond less than four minutes later, when Ricardo Aldape broke away from the Judson defense for his second goal of the season.
Judson's Diego Silva evened the score once again in the 24th minute on his second goal of the day, capping a stretch of four goals in 15 minutes. Both offenses would finally cool off during the rest of the first half, taking a 2-2 score into the break.
A goal in the 69th minute would put Judson back in front, and the Cougars were unable to recover. Orlando Tapia took two shots on target in the second half, in the 80th and 85th minutes, but both were saved. The Eagles then put the game out of reach with a pair of goals within a minute, scoring in the 81st and 82nd to build a 5-2 lead.
Saint Xavier would take No. 13 Cardinal Stritch to extra time, but a goal in the 110th minute would sink the Cougars, 2-1, on Sept. 25.
The Cougars took the lead just 44 seconds into the game, on Daniel Weinhand's first career goal in an SXU uniform. Saint Xavier would hold the lead throughout the first half, as freshman goalkeeper Shane Badertscher made four saves before the break.
Cardinal Stritch would tie the game early in the second half, scoring in the 51st minute. Throughout the rest of regulation, Badertscher would make four more saves to keep the Cougars in the game. Fabian Lopez in the 67th minute, and Danny Lopez in the 88th would each get a crack on goal, but were unable to find the game-winner.
With less than a minute left to play in the second overtime session, and just after Matt Geib's header was saved, the Wolves would break through with the go-ahead goal to take the win.
It was a rough outing for the Cyclones as they took fourth in their conference tournament on College of Lake County’s course in Pine Meadow Golf Club in Mundelein on Sept. 29.
Some questionable weather and a lightening delay set the Cyclones back, as they collectively scored 347. Thomas Rodriguez (Peotone) led the effort with an 81. Following him was Lockport Township alum Akim Bizati (87), Andrew product Sean McKernan (89), Lincoln-Way East grad James Goich (90) and Peotone alum Paul Douglas (90).
Priro to that, in a two-day outing at a windy Illinois Valley Classic at Deer Park Golf Club in Oglesby, held Sept. 21-22, the crew took 15th place out of 16 teams.
Goich had a strong performance, hitting 80 and 74. Following him was Rodriguez (82, 82), Douglas (86, 86), McKernan (86, 99) and Bizati (91, 94).
The Cyclones tacked on another quick victory Sept. 19, taking three from College of Lake County, 25-11, 25-21, 25-13.
The team was firing on all cylinders as it won its 13th match of the season. Abbi Fletcher (Oak Lawn) led the way with 13 kills and Taylor Bulow (Oak Lawn) had 16 assists. Emily Stepanek (Sandburg) finished with four aces and Lauren Gausselin (Sandburg) tallied 20 digs.
In another strong performance Sept. 20, the Cyclones took three from visiting South Suburban College, 25-14, 25-14, 25-11.
Noelle Knezz (Lincoln-Way West) finished with 14 kills and 18 assists while Elizabeth Coffey (Peotone) had eight blocks.
The Cyclones played their home opener Sept. 19, battling to the bitter end. Even down a couple players to injury, they fought through a 5-4 loss to Waubonsee Community College.
At first singles, Brooke Zielke (Shepard) won 6-1, 6-4. After dominating the first set, her opponent stepped up her game, but Zielke showed character, remaining strong in the second set and surpassing mental barriers.
At second singles, Jasmine Abunaim (Sandburg) handily won 6-2, 6-3. Abunaim played a smart match against a quick opponent.
Zielke and Abunaim teamed up at first doubles and won their first doubles match, 6-1, 6-0. They dominated thanks to their clear communication, positive attitudes and killer serves.
Serene Itani (Shepard), at third singles, lost 1-6, 1-6. The score, however, does not show how hard the match was or how hard she fought against a tough opponent. This match was a character builder.
Audrey Stocklen (Shepard) had a big night at fourth singles, winning her first match of the season (6-3, 6-3).
“I could not be more happy and proud of her. She has been working really hard in practice, and it's so nice to see it pay off,” head coach Breanna Vollan said of Stocklen. “She battled hard and played smart against a worthy opponent. She upped her game to secure the win.”
Mary Stocklen (Shepard) fought hard at fifth singles, but ultimately lost, 1-6, 4-6. After a tough first set, she came back, got in her opponent's head and battled like there was no tomorrow.
Itani and Audrey Stocklen faltered at second doubles (3-6, 2-6).
“The match was hard fought. I am so pleased on how everyone did whether they got the win or not,” Vollan said. “All of these matches are a build up to the region tournament. With what I saw, I really think Moraine Valley is going to show up and keep our opponents on their toes during regionals. I can't wait to see what the future holds for us and my players.”
The Cyclones battled to a 5-4 victory over McHenry County College on Sept. 20 in Palos Hills.
Both Brooke Zielke (first singles) and Jasmine Abunaim (second singles) dominated again with identical scores of 6-1, 6-0. They both played very well at singles but shined at first doubles, which they won 6-2, 6-0 against a solid duo.
“It was fun to watch them step up their game. They had to play smart and adjust in order to secure the win. This match was a total leap in the right direction for the duo,” Vollan said.
Serene Itani (third singles) battled against a tough opponent, ultimately losing 1-6, 2-6. Audrey Stocklen (fourth singles) lost a long, hard-fought match (3-6, 4-6) against a worthy opponent as well. They were very evenly matched and were at deuce time and time again. Mary Stocklen (fifth singles) played one of her best matches this season, winning 6-2, 6-1 thanks to her consistency, hard-work ethic and mental toughness.
The clinching match came down to second doubles when the overall match was tied at 4. Mary Stocklen and Itani battled through a super tiebreaker, ultimately earning the victory (6-1, 4-6, 10-6).
“Despite losing the second set, they walked into the tiebreaker ready to fight,”Vollan said. “It was amazing to watch them battle together, coming together as partners and teammates. They kept reminding each other to be confident and mentally in it. It was a true example of the mental aspect of tennis and a great testament to how hard they have been working. I am so proud of these two. I am at a loss for words that explain how greatly they upped their game yesterday.”
Daniel Kasaggoma (Uganda) earned a hat trick Sept. 20 to help his team maintain an unblemished record.
The Cyclones faced conference rival Oakton Community College, one of a handful of teams that are expected to cause trouble for the undefeated crew this season. They battled to the 4-2 victory with three goals from Kasaggoma and one from Fernando Alvarez (Reavis). Odunsi Adedolapo (Nigeria), Daniel Rohder (Sandburg) and Omar Barragan (Reavis) earned assists.
The Cyclones recorded their 10th win Sept. 22 in an easy 4-0 win over the visiting Kennedy-King College Statesmen.
Amin Mizyed (Clear Brook) and James Finn (Stagg) scored in the first half off assists from Omar Barragan and Tomasz Kulak (Stagg) while Daniel Rohder and Daniel Kasaggoma sealed the victory with two additional goals after halftime. Kulak and Finn earned the assists. The Statesmen were no match for the undefeated Cyclones, which took 20 shots to Kennedy-King’s five. Karl Kosary (Andrew) grabbed time in the net, saving five.
In the last four years, the Cyclones hadn’t lost or tied a game during the regular season. On Sept. 19, that streak ended in a 2-2 deadlock with North Central College JV.
Each time the Cyclones scored, the Cardinals equalized the game. Karen Montoya (Eisenhower) scored in the first 14 minutes, but North Central countered 21 minutes later. After halftime, Lemont alum Mairead Ruane (assist from Thornton Fractional North grad Jasmine Quezada) got her team ahead, which disappeared a minute later, resulting in the rare tie.
The Cyclones tacked on their eighth victory Sept. 20, this time in a narrow 2-1 edging of Olivet Nazarene University JV.
Patricia Rzadkosz (Reavis) struck first in the 21st minute off a pass from Mairead Ruane. Xochiquetzal Torres-Montez (Argo) added insurance (assist from Hubbard alum Iris Cruz) mid-way through the second half, which the team needed as Olivet scored 10 minutes later. Maribel Carmona (Reavis) made three saves in the effort.
There aren’t too many teams that can pose a big threat to the nationally ranked Cyclones, but on Sept. 22 they met their match in the visiting Parkland College Cobras. Moraine Valley maintained perfection, however, winning the barn burner 3-2.
The Cyclones have only given up two goals to two teams this season, Parkland being the latest. Iris Cruz and Stagg product Veronika Stafira (assist by Mairead Ruane) got their team on the board first and were cruising until the Cobras bounced back to score twice within 10 minutes in the second half. But this team never gives up. Five minutes later, Sylvia Kordaczka (Lockport) scored a free kick for the win with 20 minutes left in the game, leaving the Cobras scrambling to catch back up. They were no match for a tightened Cyclone defense, however, that would not yield another goal.
"We've been hit with lingering injuries to some top starters all season, and it's really incredible how we are able to still win these games. We don't always play well or up to our standards, but we always find a way to win (or at least tie). I think we've only played one game all season in which our top 11 were able to start and play at the same time,” said head Coach Al Palar. “This game was a really nice win for us because of how physical and intense it was. They had some really talented players. Now we have a couple of big, big games coming up for us."
Nearly every runner from the women’s team ran a personal best at the 37th annual Brissman-Lundeen Invitational at Augustana College in Rock Island, finishing 23rd out of 27 teams on Sept. 21.
As she has all season, Calista Stefaniak (Kennedy) led her team in 66th place in 24:32. Tinley Park grad Madison Krisch (175th, 26:31), Richards product Victoria Granz (183rd, 26:39), Reavis alum Lupe Diaz (260th, 29:06) and Reavis grad Natalie Moreno (316th, 36:27) followed. All but Moreno ran personal records.
“That is great for everyone's confidence. With two more regular season meets to go, we're heading in the right direction. Most of them ran faster 5K times during this 6K than their 5K PR's,” said head coach Dimitri Dimizas. “We're still trying to get everyone healthy, and when that happens, we should see even more impressive results from this group.”
The men’s cross country team continues to grind out their times this season. In their latest effort, they had a full team to finish 19th of 27. Two Cyclones earned personal records.
Leading the way was Sandburg alum David Alvarez (84th, 27:25) followed by Oak Lawn product Diego Arana (111th, 27:47), Lincoln-Way East grad John Donovan (183rd, 28:49), Tinley Park product Ettore Gaytan (251st, 30:48) and Andrew alum Salah Mustafa (285th, 32:47). Donovan and Gaytan earned PR’s.
“This was a learning experience for the men. Some of them took chances that will make them better down the road, and that's what these meets are for sometimes, taking chances and learning,” Dimizas said. “JD and Ettore ran big PR's, and that puts them in a great position in understanding that their hard work is paying off. We have a more challenging course next week so it'll be interesting to see how they handle that.”