Saturday, August 20, 2016

Gold Nuggets lose twice in Texas to open season

SAN ANTONIO, Texas — Xavier University of Louisiana opened the 2016 volleyball season Friday with losses to Wayland Baptist and Our Lady of the Lake in the Hotel Indigo at the Alamo Saints Classic.

\The Gold Nuggets lost 25-22, 25-16, 25-23 to Wayland Baptist in the morning, then lost 25-14, 20-25, 25-11, 25-12 to OLLU, the tournament host, in the afternoon. All three teams were NAIA National Championship qualifiers a year ago.

XULA freshman Tiffany Phillips opened her college career with assist/dig double-doubles in both matches. She had 15 assists and 12 digs in the first match and 29 assists and 11 digs in the second.

Other highlights included sophomore newcomer Monet Fontaine's 11 kills and freshman Hasani Salaam's eight kills against OLLU and junior newcomer Juliana Tomasoni's 11 digs in the opener.

Against the Pioneers, the Gold Nuggets used a 9-0 run to take a 16-12 first-set lead. XULA led 18-16 and was tied at 23 in the third set before Wayland Baptist clinched.

Fontaine had five kills and Salaam four in the second set to help the Gold Nuggets even the second match.

Top performers for the opponents were Wayland Baptist's Mallorie Ellis (11 kills, 12 digs) and Elisabeth Pirolo (six aces, 22 assists, 10 digs) and OLLU's Kendall Gross (13 kills, .414 hitting percentage) and Leilani Smith (11 kills, .375). The Pioneers and Saints had cumulative advantages of 90-60 in kills and 20-4 in aces. They outhit the Gold Nuggets .213 to .088.

XULA returns no starters from last season's 19-8 team that repeated as champions of the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference regular season and tournament. Of the 12 student-athletes who traveled this week, eight were freshmen.

XULA will play twice in this event Saturday — at 11 a.m. against NAIA No. 20 Evangel and 1 p.m. against Tennessee Wesleyan. The Gold Nuggets' home opener will be Sept. 2.

Ed Cassiere, Sports Information Director

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