GCAC Women’s Volleyball Season Preview: Dillard Lady Bleu Devils

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Dillard Volleyball
(Photo: Dillard Athletics)

GCAC Sports Information

NEW ORLEANS, La. – The Dillard University volleyball program will look to take the next step in getting over the hump in the spring season as it hopes new Head Coach Lashaunda Spurgeon can spark a championship run after falling to Xavier (La.) in the Championship Game in straight sets a season ago.

Coach Spurgeon takes over the blue and white after spending the 2019 campaign with the NCAA Division II’s Fayetteville State as an Assistant Coach. She helped guide the Broncos to a CIAA Southern Division Championship while capturing the CIAA Tournament crown to earn the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament with a record of 19-7 and 16-1 during conference play.

The Lady Bleu Devils were second in the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference last season in kills per set (10.9), assists per set (10.1) and blocks per set (2.0) while placing among the top-three in digs per set (14.7) and top-five for hitting percentage (.131).

DU will welcome back juniors Desire Neal and Codi Fillmore as well as senior Elisabeth Gallon to the fold.

Neal earned a nod on both the All-GCAC First Team and GCAC All-Tournament Team after placing second in the league with 336 kills (3.2 per set) and fourth in hitting percentage (.233).

Fillmore just missed the cut for All-GCAC but did receive an Honorable Mention, racking up the fifth-most kills per set (2.6) and seventh-most kills (202) in the conference last year.

Gallon was the team’s primary defender at the net, tallying a team-best 90 blocks for a 0.9 per set average. Both marks ranked third in the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference.

A pair of SWAC transfers will make their debuts for Dillard in 2020 with sophomore Zyaire-Prettie Garrit coming over from Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Tamia Hightower joining the club after a stint with Prairie View A&M.

Garrit was an excellent attacker for the Lady Lions a season prior, smacking 211 kills (1.92) to rank second in that category.

Hightower put together 148 points, 123 kills, 43 blocks, 35 digs, six assists and two aces while making seven starts for PVAMU over the last two years.

Freshman Taylor Hurst will make the short trek from Baton Rouge to New Orleans following an extraordinarily successful five-year career at The Dunham School. The five-foot-four public health major was a four-time All-District and All-Metro selection, three-time Team MVP and piled up an eye-popping 2,150 assists during her time as a Tiger.

Dillard will kickoff the campaign on Saturday against Crescent City rivals Xavier (La.) and Loyola (La.) at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m., respectively. The game against Xavier will count as a non-conference tilt and both contests will be the last on-court action the team sees until GCAC play begins on February 13 when the Lady Bleu Devils host Philander Smith and Rust College inside Dent Hall.

2019 Record: 16-15 (11-3 GCAC)

2019 Finish: Second Place (Lost in GCAC Championship)

Head Coach: Lashaunda Spurgeon (First Season / 0-0 Overall, 0-0 GCAC)

Top Returners:
• Desire Neal (Jr, OH/MB, Sacramento, Calif.)
• Codi Fillmore (Jr, OH, Houston, Texas)
• Elisabeth Gallon (Sr, MB, Maricopa, Ariz.)

Key Players Lost:
• Alexis Barnett (GCAC Defender of the Year / GCAC All-Tournament Team / All-GCAC First Team / First in GCAC in digs and second in digs per set)
• Precious Butler (Finished second on team in digs and digs per set / Second on team in service aces)
• Tristan Cojoe (Second in GCAC in blocks per set)

Top Newcomers:
• Zyaire-Prettie Garrit (So, OH, Long Beach, Calif.)
• Tamia Hightower (Jr, RS, Arlington, Texas)
• Taylor Hurst (Fr, S/Lib, Baton Rouge, La.)

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