Gold Nuggets picked 1st in GCAC with 4 named preseason all-conference

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NEW ORLEANS — Six-time defending volleyball champion Xavier University of Louisiana is favored to win the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference title again, according to a preseason poll of the league’s head coaches.

XULA has four of the eight players on the preseason All-GCAC team: libero Amanda Perry, setter Tiffany Phillips, middle blocker/right side Hasani Salaam and outside hitter Juliana Tomasoni. Perry, Phillips and Salaam are sophomores; Tomasoni is a senior.

The GCAC announced the results Monday.

Following the Gold Nuggets in the predicted order of finish were Dillard in second place, SUNO third, Talladega fourth, Tougaloo fifth, Edward Waters sixth and Philander Smith seventh.

Perry, from Bolingbrook, Ill., and a graduate of Bolingbrook High School, was GCAC Defender of the Year, first-team All-GCAC and Louisiana Freshman of the Year in 2016 and set a XULA season record of 529 digs. Phillips, from Gardena, Calif., and a graduate of Bishop Montgomery High School, was GCAC Setter of the Year and second-team All-GCAC a year ago. Phillips led the conference with 8.34 assists per set.

Salaam, from New Orleans and a graduate of Lusher Charter High School, was second-team All-GCAC in 2016 and led the Gold Nuggets with a .249 hitting percentage and 62 blocks. Tomasoni, from Nova Trento, Brazil, and a graduate of Francisco Mazzola in her home country and Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, led the Gold Nuggets a year ago with 345 kills, 27 aces and 14 double-doubles and was second with a .242 hitting percentage and 391 digs. She was MVP of the GCAC Tournament, first-team All-GCAC and second-team All-Louisiana.

The Gold Nuggets, led by new head coach Pat Kendrick, will open their 10th season of intercollegiate volleyball Aug. 25 in the UM-Dearborn Early Bird at Dearborn, Mich. — 3 p.m. EDT against Trinity International and 7 p.m. against Madonna. The XULA home opener will start at 6 p.m. Aug. 29 against Mobile at the Convocation Center.

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