St. Xavier University's men's volleyball team qualified for the NAIA nationals for the fourth time. SXU photo

St. Xavier University's men's volleyball team qualified for the NAIA nationals for the fourth time. SXU photo

Area Sports Roundup | Saint Xavier men’s volleyball team heads back to nationals

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By Jeff Vorva
Staff Writer

Four for four.

The NAIA will host its fourth Men’s Volleyball Championships on April 11, and Saint Xavier kept its record perfect in making it to every national tournament.

The Cougars picked up an automatic bid on April 1 with a 25-18, 25-15, 25-22 victory over Judson University in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament, which wrapped up at the Shannon Center in Chicago.

SXU (22-4) will enter pool play April 11 at the MidAmerican Energy Company RecPlex in Des Moines, Iowa.

The bad news for the Cougars is that they have yet to win a match in the nationals, going 0-3 in 2019, 0-2 in 2021 and 0-2 in 2022. COVID-19 prompted the cancellation of the 2020 tournament.

The good news is that even if the trend of going winless continues this year, they likely will have plenty of firepower in the coming years to break that trend and thrive.

The Cougars, ranked 10th in the nation by NAIA coaches, was led by two freshmen from Poland on April 1. Oskar Krzyzak had 17 kills and a .448 hitting percentage. He is now sixth on the Cougars list for single-season kills with 314. Jan Lopuch added 10 kills.

Vejas Cuplinskas, a junior outside hitter from Riverside-Brookfield, had nine kills.

To get to the title game, the Cougars beat Trinity Christian 25-13, 25-20, 25-15 March 31 in Chicago. The convincing victory was revenge for a regular-season five-set loss to the Trolls on March 14, in which the Cougars had a 34-match conference win streak snapped.

In the tournament semifinals, Lopuch had 15 kills and a .560 hitting percentage. Cuplinskas had five kills.

Trinity (17-11) was led by Alex Acosta’s eight kills.

LUKA KOSTIC scaled

Lyons junior Juka Kostic stretches before a serve in the Argo Invitational on March 31. Photo by Jeff Vorva

 

Lions roar
Lyons won the 12-team Argo boys volleyball tournament, which wrapped up April 1.

The Lions were ranked No. 6 in the preseason by illprepvb.com and knocked off No. 8 Lockport, 25-15, 28-26 in the championship match.

Outside hitters Sam Levinson and Luka Kostic joined middle hitter Leo Wiemelt on the all-tournament team.

Lyons is 7-0 and has dropped only one game this year, that being Brother Rice in the first match of the season.

The Argo tournament was packed with area teams. Oak Lawn finished in fourth place while Stagg was fifth, Reavis placed sixth and St. Laurence was seventh. Argo, Mount Carmel and Shepard each finished 1-2 in the consolation bracket.

Reavis libero Krystian Paluch, Oak Lawn middle hitter Connor Lewis, Stagg setter Matthew Wojciechowski and St. Laurence outside hitter Dylan McKeon were named to the all-tournament team.

 

Forberg heading to Arcadia

Richards senior distance runner Owen Forberg is heading to California to participate with some elite competition.

He will run the 3200-meter event at the Arcadia Invitational, to be held Friday and Saturday, April 7 and 8 at Arcadia High School. The event has been the site of 33 national records, and 203 United States Olympians have competed there.

Forberg is headed to Indiana University for track and cross country. He finished 20th in the state in Class 2A in cross country in November.

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