Saturday, October 15, 2016

XULA clinches tie for GCAC regular-season championship

NEW ORLEANS — Xavier University of Louisiana defeated Dillard 25-18, 26-24, 23-25, 25-14 Thursday at the Convocation Center to clinch a tie for its sixth consecutive Gulf Coast Athletic Conference regular-season volleyball championship.

The Gold Nuggets (12-13, 9-0) can win the title outright with a victory next Thursday at SUNO or a Talladega loss in any of its final four GCAC matches. The Lady Tornadoes will visit conference opponent Edward Waters Saturday.

XULA set a school record for digs in a match with 118. Amanda Perry led the Gold Nuggets with 28 digs, and Juliana Tomasoni had 20. Tomasoni produced 14 kills, and Hasani Salaam had 11.
Sarah Boykin had 15 kills for Dillard (8-15, 5-4), and Demetria Horton had 32 digs.

Dillard finished with 113 digs, and both teams had five players apiece in double figures. For XULA, Taylor Ducros and Tiffany Phillips had 14 apiece, and Kayla Jones had 12. Phillips had a career-high three blocks, and her 28 assists helped her set a XULA season record of 11 assist-dig double-doubles. Franziska Pirkl had 10 in 2014.

XULA defeated Dillard, its longtime city and GCAC rival, for the 15th consecutive time. The Gold Nuggets clinched exactly two months after their first practice of the season. This year's team has 11 newcomers, including nine freshmen. The Nuggets continued their GCAC success without any of the starters or the regular libero from 2015.

"We've come an extremely long way since we first practiced. I'm really proud of how efficient we have become as a whole," fourth-year XULA coach Hannah Lawing said. "Our players have really started to process the game in a different way. They are anticipating what is happening on the other side of the net instead of just reacting. It can take young athletes years to grasp this concept, but our team has developed this skill so quickly. It's been so fun to be a part of that growth process."

XULA outhit Dillard .129 to .050 and had advantages of 54-40 in kills and 5-1 in aces. Phillips and Kaelan Temple served two aces apiece for the Gold Nuggets.

Attendance was 504, the second largest in the Nuggets' four seasons at the Convocation Center. XULA and Dillard attracted 511 fans a year ago.

XULA will play host to Southern States Athletic Conference leader Mobile at 3 p.m. Saturday. It will be senior day for Jones and Ralitsa Slanchev.

NOTES: The previous XULA record for digs in a match was 108 at SUNO in a five-set victory on Oct. 1, 2014 . . . XULA had 102 digs the final three sets against Dillard — 38 in the final set . . . Salaam reached double figures in kills for the first time since Sept. 3 . . . XULA ended the match on a 10-2 run that included four Salaam kills and two by Terri Drake . . . Phillips has double-doubles in both meetings this season with Dillard . . . Perry improved her XULA freshman record to 403 digs; she's nine short of Darian Harris' overall season mark from a year ago . . . XULA is 24-0 all-time in the Convocation Center in GCAC regular-season matches.


Ed Cassiere, Sports Information Director

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