Sunday, November 6, 2016

Nuggets sweep SUNO to advance to GCAC tourney final

NEW ORLEANS — Xavier University of Louisiana, led by freshman Hasani Salaam's career-best 17 kills and .571 hitting percentage, defeated SUNO 25-17, 25-21, 26-24 Friday in the semifinals of the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference volleyball tournament at Dillard's Dent Hall.
The Gold Nuggets (15-16), the tournament's No. 1 seed, will play second-seeded Talladega for the championship at 11 a.m. Saturday at Dillard. XULA seeks a sixth consecutive GCAC Tournament championship. There will be free admission to the match.
Salaam committed one error in 28 attacks.
Juliana Tomasoni had 11 kills, hit .500 and served three aces for XULA. Sarah Pitts-Groce hit .375 with a season-high-tying seven kills, Amanda Perry had eight digs, Tiffany Phillips had 34 assists, and Cara Ford served two aces.
Sonja Backovic had nine kills for SUNO (10-18).
XULA trailed 19-16 and 23-22 in the third set before ending the match on kills by Terri Drake and Tomasoni.
XULA outhit SUNO .275 to .155 and, for the sixth consecutive year, eliminated the Lady Knights from the tournament. It was the first time since 2012 that the Gold Nuggets and Lady Knights did not meet in the championship round.
Talladega rallied from an 8-4 fifth-set deficit to defeat third-seeded Dillard 27-29, 25-15, 15-25, 25-17, 15-12 in the other semifinal. The XULA-Talladega winner will receive an automatic bid to the NAIA National Championship, which will begin Nov. 19. XULA and Talladega split their two regular-season meetings, with the Lady Tornadoes winning in five sets this past weekend at Talladega.


Ed Cassiere, Sports Information Director

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