Loyola rallies in 5th set to snap Gold Nuggets’ volleyball win streak

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NEW ORLEANS — Malea Howie produced three kills and an ace in the final 17 rallies Tuesday to help Loyola come from behind for a 21-25, 25-23, 15-25, 25-23, 15-13 volleyball victory against Xavier University of Louisiana at The Den.

The Wolf Pack (16-17) erased a 7-4 fifth-set deficit to defeat the Gold Nuggets (26-6) for the first time since 2014. XULA had won six straight against its city rival, including 25-18, 25-19, 25-12 at home during opening weekend in August.

Howie had back-to-back kills to cut XULA’s fifth-set lead to 7-6, and her ace gave Loyola a 9-8 lead. There were ties at 8, 9, 10, 11 and 13, then the Wolf Pack ended the match on kills by Isabella Clayton, then Howie.

XULA entered the match with seven straight wins and 18 victories in its previous 19 matches. The Gold Nuggets clinched Saturday an outright Gulf Coast Athletic Conference regular-season championship.

Kayla Black had 19 kills, four aces and 11 digs for the Gold Nuggets but also had six of her team’s eight reception errors. Ema Causevic had 17 kills — a season high — eight digs and three blocks, Vivica Price-Spraggins and Jaida Dowd had 11 kills apiece, and Maya Smith had seven kills and seven blocks.

Also for XULA, Jennifer Torres had 25 digs and two aces, Eva Le Guillou had 36 assists and 15 digs, Tiffany Phillips had 22 assists and nine digs, and Price-Spraggins had four blocks. Smith hit .500, Dowd .345 and Price-Spraggins .333.

Howie had 16 kills to tie her season high, and she served three aces. Gabriela Martinez had 12 kills and hit .286 for Loyola, Brittany Cooper had 11 kills, two aces, two blocks and 15 digs, and Champagne Cunningmham had six blocks.

XULA outhit Loyola .237 to .149 and had advantages of 68-57 in kills, 60-53 in assists, 92-86 in digs and 11-8 in
blocks. The teams committed 41 errors apiece. Loyola outhit XULA .257 in the .221 in the three sets the Wolf Pack won and committed 19 errors to the Gold Nuggets’ 24.

It was the first time in nine matches this season that XULA lost on an opponent’s floor. The Gold Nuggets are 17-3 away from home in 2019, 9-2 on neutral courts.

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