Nuggets: 9th straight GCAC Tournament title, 23rd straight win vs. Dillard
NEW ORLEANS — Xavier University of Louisiana volleyball won the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Tournament for the ninth consecutive year, this time in a 25-23, 25-17, 25-23 decision Saturday against city rival Dillard at the Convocation Center.
The Gold Nuggets (30-6) earned an automatic bid to the NAIA National Championship tournament, which will start next Saturday at 12 campus sites. Pairings will be announced late Monday afternoon.
Vivica Price-Spraggins and Kayla Black had 11 kills apiece for XULA, and Maya Smith had seven. Jennifer Torres had 18 digs and two aces. Smith had three blocks. Eva Le Guillou had 20 assists, and Tiffany Phillips had 14.
Price-Spraggins, who hit .421 in 19 attacks in the final, was chosen tournament MVP, and Torres and Phillips joined her on the all-tournament team.
“Viv was steady all weekend,” XULA head coach Pat Kendrick said. “She was exactly what we needed.”
Dillard erased a 16-10 first-set deficit to gain a tie at 23, but XULA escaped when Phillips and Black closed with kills. The Lady Bleu Devils scored seven straight points in the second set to cut XULA’s lead to 18-17, but the Gold Nuggets closed with 7-0 run. In the third set Dillard led 15-9 and 20-15, but the Lady Bleu Devils committed five attack errors in the final 13 rallies to help XULA complete the sweep and defeat Dillard for the 23rd consecutive time.
“Dillard came out ready and pushed us,” Kendrick said. “It made for an exciting championship final. We got big performances from key people, which speaks to the depth of our team.”
Desire Neal had 13 kills and hit .310 for Dillard. Elisabeth Gallon had seven blocks, and Alexis Barnett had 19 digs.
XULA outhit Dillard .215 to .104 and had advantages of 46-34 in kills, 41-33 in assists and 3-2 in aces. Dillard had advantages of 48-46 in digs and 9-5 in blocks. XULA committed 29 total errors, four fewer than Dillard.
The Gold Nuggets are 47-0 against GCAC opponents during Kendrick’s three seasons — 40-0 in the regular season, 7-0 in the tournament.
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