Sweet Sixteen: Gold Nuggets dominate Dillard in volleyball again

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NEW ORLEANS — Xavier University of Louisiana shut down Dillard’s hitters Thursday en route to a 25-15, 25-17, 25-8 Gulf Coast Athletic Conference volleyball victory at XULA’s Convocation Center.

The Gold Nuggets (11-2, 5-0) have beaten the Lady Bleu Devils (11-9, 3-2) 16 consecutive times, and this is the first time during the streak that Dillard — which hit minus-.009 with 21 kills and 22 errors in 109 attacks — finished with a negative hitting percentage.

XULA, meanwhile, hit .237 with 36 kills and 14 errors in 93 attacks.

“I thought we finished well,” first-year XULA head coach Pat Kendrick said. “We started the match a little flat emotionally, but we finished with a good energy.”

Kayla Black hit .318 with 10 kills, eight digs and three aces for the Gold Nuggets, who are 6-0 at home this season. Adili Rikondja produced a season-high-tying eight kills, a season-high .500 hitting percentage and — for the third straight match — a career-high tying four blocks.

Lauryn Taylor had seven kills and hit .250; both were her second-best figures of the season. Anna Dalla Vecchia had 19 digs, 10 in the first set, and reached double figures for the ninth consecutive match. Juliana Tomasoni served five aces — she’s the only Gold Nugget to serve an ace in every match this season — Amanda Perry served two aces, and Jaida Dowd had a career-best four blocks.

XULA split the setting role again, with freshman Eva Le Guillou collecting 21 in her first collegiate start and Tiffany Phillips getting 12.

Taylor, Le Guillou, Black, Dowd and Dalla Vecchia are freshmen.

XULA won 36-of-38 sets in its last 12 meetings with Dillard.

Corneisja Harrison had six kills for Dillard but hit minus-094 in a match-high 32 attacks. Shelby Stewart and Tristan Cojoe had five kills apiece, Cojoe had four blocks, and Alexis Barnett had 13 digs.

XULA had advantages of 11-0 in aces, 54-41 in digs and 7-5 in blocks. The teams will meet again Nov. 2 in the Gold Nuggets’ regular-season finale at Dillard’s Dent Hall.

XULA’s victory dropped Dillard from second to third place in the GCAC, and Tougaloo (5-2) climbed to second. XULA, which seeks a seventh consecutive GCAC regular-season and tournament championship, is the only team with fewer than two conference losses.

The Gold Nuggets will play William Carey in a non-conference match at 6 p.m. next Thursday at the Convocation Center.

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