Sunday, November 6, 2016

Gold Nuggets collect 4 major awards at GCAC tourney banquet

METAIRIE, Louisiana — Xavier University of Louisiana volleyball received four major Gulf Coast Athletic Conference awards Thursday during a banquet honoring the seven GCAC Tournament teams.

XULA, the regular-season champion and tournament's No. 1 seed, will play at 3 p.m. Friday in the semifinals at Dillard's Dent Hall against SUNO or Tougaloo. The Lady Knights and Lady Bulldogs will meet in a first-round match at 9 a.m. XULA has a first-round bye.     

The Gold Nuggets' major winners were:

     •  Juliana Tomasoni, Newcomer of the Year.
     •  Amanda Perry, Defender of the Year.
     •  Tiffany Phillips, Setter of the Year.
     •  Hannah Lawing, Coach of the Year.

Tomasoni — a junior outside hitter/defensive specialist from Nova Trento, Brazil, and a graduate of Francisco Mazzola in her home country and Northeastern Oklahoma A&M — leads the Gold Nuggets through 30 matches with 301 kills and 22 aces and is second with a .232 hitting percentage and 368 digs. In her third XULA match she produced a school-record 25 kills Aug. 20 against Evangel.
Perry, a freshman libero/defensive specialist from Bolingbrook High School and a graduate of Bolingbrook High School, has a school-record 490 digs and is third on the Nuggets with 20 aces. A three-time GCAC Defender of the Week, Perry also set school season records with 27 matches of double-figure digs and 18 matches in a row.

Phillips, a freshman setter/defensive specialist from Gardena, Calif., and a graduate of Bishop Montgomery High School, leads XULA with 743 assists, is second with 21 aces and third with 219 digs. She also has 70 kills and 21 blocks. Five times she has been chosen GCAC Setter of the Week; that ties the XULA record for most weekly awards in this sport. Her 12 assist-dig double-doubles are a XULA season record.

"We're all very proud of them," Lawing said. "If I could give each of our players an individual award I would, because that's how meaningful they are to me and to each other. We appreciate the awards we've been given. Everybody has given a team effort to chip in for each of those awards."

Last week Tomasoni and Perry were named first-team All-GCAC, and Phillips and Hasani Salaam made the second team.

Lawing, in her fifth season at XULA and her fourth as head coach, directed the Gold Nuggets to a sixth consecutive GCAC regular-season championship. XULA returned none of its starters nor its libero from a year ago. The Gold Nuggets were 11-1 in conference and won the regular-season title by two matches.

"This award is more of a reflection of my players and assistant coach (Hilary Lobenstein) and the staff at Xavier," Lawing said. "I would not have been able to win Coach of the Year without them."

XULA won Setter of the Year for the second consecutive year — Franziska Pirkl was honored in 2015 — and Lawing won Coach of the Year for the second time in three seasons.

Ed Cassiere, Sports Information Director

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