No. 1 Talladega and No. 3 Fisk set for GCAC title clash

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SHREVEPORT-BOSSIER CITY – Fans were treated to an exciting second day of competition at the 2023 Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Volleyball Championship. After two quarterfinal and two semifinal matches, the stage was set – the No. 1 Talladega Tornadoes and the No. 3 Fisk Bulldogs will meet in Tuesday’s championship battle.

The collision will take place at Noon CT inside of Billy W. Montgomery Gymnasium on the campus of Bossier Parish Community College. With the win, Fisk University’s Head Coach enters her first career championship match.

Tickets are available at the door or online.

Quarterfinal Scores
#4 Philander Smith University 3 def. #5 Rust College 1 (27-25, 25-11, 21-25, 25-10)
#3 Fisk University def. #6 Wiley University (25-18, 25-14, 25-19)

Philander Smith 3, Rust 1

In a hard-fought and thrilling match-up, the fifth-seeded Rust College Lady Bearcats put on a great showing against fourth-seeded Philander Smith University. The Panthers’ tactical net play proved too much for the Bearcats as they went down in four sets.

Ja’Niyah Sanders led the way for the Panthers with a double-double recording fourteen kills and fifteen digs behind two aces and two block assists. Kiah Rucker gave an added boost with twelve kills, two digs, four block assists, and a solo block.

The Lady Bearcats were propelled by the relentless efforts of Deja Campbell and Paige Eason. Campbell finished today with a double-double picking up twenty-two digs and ten kills, adding a solo block. Eason matched with ten kills of her own followed by seven digs, four aces, and one assisted block.

Fisk 3, Wiley 0
It was a cat and dog fight in the second match of the day. The No. 6 Wiley Wildcats proved they know how to come out strong, but were consistently overpowered and fell in three sets to the No. 3 Bulldogs of Fisk University. (25-18, 25-14, 25-19).

Newcomer of the Year and First Team All-GCAC member Iyanla Thigpen cemented the win for the Bulldogs with her 17 exclamatory kills, adding three solo blocks, one assisted block, and an ace. Nebthet Re, the Freshman and Setter of the Year dished out 37 assists, picking up two digs, putting down two kills, serving up two aces, and assisting in one block.

On the other side of the net, Shyla Starks kept the Wildcats in the game with nine kills, while All-GCAC Honorable Mention member Brayleigh Mitchell backed her up with seven kills.

Semifinal Scores

#1 Talladega College 3 def. #4 Philander Smith University 0 (27-25, 25-13, 25-19)
#3 Fisk University 3 def. #2 Dillard University 1 (25-22, 25-16, 9-25, 25-21)

Talladega 3, Philander 0

Fans witnessed an electrifying match as the No. 1 Tornadoes got off to a commanding 20-8 lead. With a serving run from Adrianna Evans, timely kills from Zarea Winn, and big-time blocks from Kiah Rucker the No. 4 Panthers found themselves back in the game all tied up at 24 a piece. Talladega pulled out the first set by a score of 27-25. Philander never backed down, but couldn’t outlast the determination of Zyaire Prettie-Garrit and company to take the match in three (27-25, 25-13, 25-19).

Prettie-Garrit spurred her team into the Championship match just shy of another double-double, finding the floor on fifteen kills, one ace, and collecting nine digs. Nedu Evans ensured her presence was felt as she terminated ten kills, tallied three digs, collected three solo blocks, and assisted with one.

Winn finished the night with 13 kills and got behind seven digs, followed by one solo and an assisted block. Rucker concluded play by posting two solo blocks assisting in six blocks, flushing five kills, and snagging two digs.

Fisk 3, Dillard 1

The excitement continued into the last semifinal match of the night as the second-seeded Bleu Devils from Dillard University met up with third-seeded foe Fisk University Bulldogs. Both sides brought all the bench energy that transferred to monstrous net play leading to fantastic defensive touches and successes. An injury temporarily dismantled the Bleu Devils as unforced errors allowed Fisk to go up two sets to none. Despite going down, Cadence Thomas bounced back to guarantee the third set belonged to Dillard, with a score of 25-9. The Bleu Devils gave their all but came up just short as the Bulldogs came out victorious in an exhilarating four sets (25-22, 25-16, 9-25, 25-21).
As expected, Iyanla Thigpen and Nebthet Re put on a show. Thigpen notched a match-high 13 kills and Re finished with a double-double setting up 38 assists and 15 digs. GCAC Defender of the Year Jadyn Brackins had a match-high 28 digs.
The Bleu Devils complete team contribution was spearheaded by Thomas’s nine kills, four digs, and two assisted blocks. Chasry Lum-King ended the match with 27 digs, while Tyramae Fautanu and Taylor Hurst dished out 15 assists each.

12 p.m. CT
No. 1 Talladega Tornadoes vs. No. 3 Fisk Bulldogs

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