In their first two home games this season the Prairie Fire lost to Iowa Wesleyan (25-16, 26-24, 26-24) on Saturday, then fell to Illinois College (25-16, 25-22, 25-11) in their first Midwest Conference game Tuesday night.
On Saturday, senior Kelly Ricketts had the team’s best offensive performance of the year so far, notching 19 kills against the Tigers.
It has been an otherwise disappointing start for the Prairie Fire, who has yet to win again this season. One of the major concerns facing the team has been the absence of sophomore setter Nina Mack, who has not played in any of the 10 matches this season due to a stress fracture in her foot.
With Mack out, the team has been forced to play two players out of position. Senior Lisa Blagg, who has been the regular libero in recent seasons, replaced Mack at setter, leaving junior Brittany Wisniewski (normally an outside hitter) to take over for Blagg.
But Mack is scheduled to return to the court this weekend when the team competes in the Luther College Tournament, which may be key to a season turnaround.
Men’s Cross Country
The Illinois Intercollegiate Championships, held at Illinois State University, showed to be a proving ground for the Prairie Fire this past Friday, as the Men’s Cross Country team showed improvement from their first meet in the season. The meet, held in Normal, Ill., involved runners from NCAA Division II, III, and NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) teams.
Knox placed 18 out of 26 teams at the competition with a total time of 2:19:15, and a total score of 515. Knox was led by sophomores Sean Choate and Gabe Moreno (27:01), senior Kevin Box (27:48) and sophomore Tyler Buddell (28:43).
Choate placed 143 out of 323 runners and clocked in a new best time of 26:48. His record places him second in the entire Midwest Conference for the season. The performance earned him Midwest Conference Performer of the Week.
The Women’s Team also performed well at the Championships, placing 17th out of 22 teams.
Senior Emma Swanson, lead the Prairie Fire in the competition, placing 123 out of 291 runners. Swanson also earned a personal best time of 20:17 in the 5K race. This record time was also fast enough to earn the 13 slot on the Knox all time individual list.
Other top performers for Knox included freshman Melanie Kovacs (21:28), sophomore Yael Cody (21:53), and senior Laura Mills (22:48).
The Women’s team will join the Men at the Forester Invitational on Sept. 24.
Knox hosted two matches on the Meridian Tennis Courts Saturday, where the Prairie Fire split their matches.
The Prairie Fire fell to the Green Knights of St. Norbert College 8-1. Sophomore Charlotte Garvin earned the sole point of the match against St. Norbert, winning her third singles match 6-0, 6-3.
Later in the day, Knox also hosted Monmouth College, beating the Fighting Scots 9-0. Five of the nine points were earned by default, but the Prairie Fire still outperformed their rivals in each individual match.
Senior Megan Funk beat her first singles competition 6-1, 6-4, while second singles senior Jordan Kuban won her match 6-4, 6-1. Garvin shut out her opponent with match scores of 6-0, 6-0.
The first doubles team of Funk and Garvin also shut out Monmouth 8-0.
The Prairie Fire’s next matches are at home on Saturday against Ripon College (2-4) and Carroll University (3-1).
The Prairie Fire competed in the Illinois College Midweek Invitational on Sept. 13, placing fifth out of six teams.
The invitational, held at Links Golf Course in Jacksonville, Ill., was the third played by the Prairie Fire in course of a week. Previous performances of 430 and 444 points at the Knox Invitational, and Fighting Scots Invitational, respectively, were improved upon at the Midweek Invitational.
Knox shaved down the team score to 422 points. Junior Mia Savard placed 15th overall with a score of 91, while sophomore Sarah Martin placed 25th with a score of 108.
Knox will travel to Pella, Iowa this weekend to compete in the Central College Invitational.
The Student Athletic Advisory Committee is now taking design submissions for the Knox-Monmouth Turkey Bowl T-Shirt. Designs will be taken from both schools, with the winner chosen by a committee made up of members of the respective athletic departments. All students interested must submit their design via electronic submission to Assistant Athletic Director Harold Watson (email@example.com) by Sept. 30.