Lady Lions historic volleyball season ends in NCAA Tournament First Round

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MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – The Southeastern Louisiana University volleyball team battled tough against one of the top teams in the country, but the Lady Lions saw its historic 2022 season come to a close in the NCAA National Championship Tournament, dropping their first round match to the #8 Minnesota Golden Gophers 3-0 (21-25, 18-25, 14-25) Friday night at Minnesota’s Maturi Pavilion.

The Lady Lions started with the early advantage in the first set. Kailin Newsome got Southeastern’s first kill and first point in a NCAA Tournament match to give SLU its first lead in a national championship tournament. Newsome would score the next two Lady Lion points with kills as well, each time putting SLU back out front after Minnesota had tied the score. With the set tied 3-3, a Golden Gopher ball handling error and attack error gave Southeastern a 5-3 lead. But Minnesota scored the next four points to take the lead for good, the start of a 10-3 Minnesota run to make it 13-8. SLU cut the deficit down to two points towards the end of the set as Newsome and Addie Vidrine went back-to-back with kills to make it 22-20 Golden Gophers. Minnesota finished off the set by winning three of the next four points.

Karlee Wilkerson tied up the second set with a kill which made the score 1-1 after two rallies, but the Golden Gophers scored the next four straight to take the lead. The Lady Lions would rally and cut it down to one point as another kill by Wilkerson was followed by a Minnesota attack error to make it 10-9. With SLU trailing 11-10 after a Golden Gopher service error, Minnesota opened up the advantage by scoring on nine of the next 12 rallies to make it 20-13. A kill by Cicily Hidalgo started a run of four out of five rallies going Southeastern’s way, a run Hannah Brewer capped with a kill which made it 21-17 Golden Gophers, but Minnesota scored on four of the final five rallies to end the set.

Minnesota pulled away right at the start of the third set, scoring on eight of the first 10 rallies with only two bad sets by the Golden Gophers accounting for SLU’s two points during that run. The Lady Lions battled to get back in the set, however, as a kill by Newsome started a 4-1 run by Southeastern as Crispin Adams scored a kill to make it 9-6. After the two teams swapped points, with a Cicily Hidalgo kill making it 10-7, Minnesota opened the advantage for good, scoring on eight of the next 10 rallies for an 18-9 lead. SLU tried to fight back into it, scoring three of the next four points as a Wilkerson kill made the score 19-12, but the Golden Gophers finished it off from there by scoring on six of the final eight rallies to claim the match and eliminate the Lady Lions.

“I thought we came out really aggressive in the first set,” said SLU head volleyball coach Jeremy White. “We talked about punching them in the mouth kind of early, how we felt we really needed to make a statement in the first set. I thought we did that, we had a chance to push them into a fourth, but we didn’t handle some business.”

Even with the season coming to an end, Coach White knew he had a special group this season.

“I’m just proud of the kids,” White continued. “We had a great season. They’re a great group of girls who love each other and care about each other and played for more than just a trophy.”

Newsome hit for .303 in the match as she finished with match-best 13 kills and just three errors in 33 total attacks. Wilkerson had seven kills to just three errors in 14 total attacks for a .286 hitting percentage in the match. Gracie Duplechein finished with 18 assists with the only solo block for the Lady Lions. Ariana Hebert had 11 assists as well. Lexi Gonzales recorded SLU’s lone service ace in the match. Hannah Brewer and Ryley Boyne combined on Southeastern’s lone block assist on the evening. Ansley Tullis led all players with 16 digs in the contest.

The Lady Lions complete their 2022 season with a 25-8 overall record, 13-5 in the Southland Conference, the first 20-win season in two decades, and their first conference tournament championship.

Fans interested in becoming active supporters of the Southeastern volleyball program are encouraged to join the Diggin’ It Club. Lion volleyball alums are encouraged to join the exclusive S Club, which is restricted to Southeastern athletic letter winners.

All membership fees and donations to both the Diggin’ It Club and S Club (volleyball) are available for the exclusive use of the Southeastern volleyball program. Membership information is available by contacting the Lion Athletics Association at or (985) 549-5091 or visiting

For more information on Lady Lions Volleyball, follow @LionUpVB or @JWhiteSLU on Twitter, @LionUpVB on Instagram, like /SLUathletics on Facebook and subscribe to the SLUathletics YouTube channel.

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