Volleyball: XULA defeats Dillard for the 24th consecutive time

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(Photo: Yamlak Tsega)

NEW ORLEANS — The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about plenty of changes this year, but none yet in Xavier University of Louisiana’s volleyball dominance of its longtime city rival.

XULA got a bounce-back performance from freshman Kennedy Wade and rolled Saturday in 74 minutes to a 25-17, 25-16, 25-15 victory against Dillard at the Convocation Center. It was XULA’s home opener, Dillard’s season opener and XULA’s 24th consecutive victory against Dillard.

XULA (1-1) will play twice at home next Saturday: noon against another city rival, Loyola. and 4 p.m. against William Carey.

The Lady Bleu Devils have not beaten XULA in volleyball since 2010 and on XULA’s campus since 2004.

Wade — whose collegiate debut included five attack errors and no kills the weekend before in a three-set loss at another city rival, Loyola — was stellar this time. The freshman hit .346 with match highs of 11 kills and two aces. Wade also had two blocks and seven digs.

There were many other XULA standouts:
• Angela Egonu hit .467 in 15 attacks with a career-best eight kills.
• Vivica Price-Spraggins, XULA’s career leader in hitting percentage (.360), hit .375 with seven kills, an ace and four blocks.
• Maya Smith had four blocks for the second time this season and shared match honors with Price-Spraggins.
• Taylor McGee had five kills, two blocks and five digs.
• Three-time Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Setter of the Year Eva Le Guillou had 18 assists and 10 digs — her 17th career double-double.
• Emi Riglioni produced kills on both her attacks and tacked on 13 assists, two aces and five digs.
• Jennifer Torres, with 10 digs, reached double figures for the second time this season and the 29th time in 40 matches over two seasons.

Freshmen and sophomores contributed 32 of XULA’s 39 kills, four of the five aces and 21 of 41 digs.

XULA outhit Dillard .304 to minus-.032 and produced advantages of 39-24 in kills, 41-36 in digs and 8-5 in blocks. Dillard committed 41 total errors, 16 more than XULA.

A week ago XULA hit .075 at Loyola and never recovered after squandering a 20-14 first-set lead.

“We played more as a team this time,” McGee said. “We focused on our side of the net and what we can do.”

The performance enabled Pat Kendrick to tie Hannah Lawing (2013-16) for most career victories by a XULA volleyball head coach with 81.

“We were more composed this time,” Kendrick said. “The communication was better. First touches were much better, more consistent. We put a lot of pressure on Dillard with our serve.”

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