Women’s Volleyball Season Preview: Xavier (La.) Gold Nuggets

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XULA Gold Nuggets Volleyball

The Xavier University of Louisiana volleyball program will look to continue its decade-long streak of dominance as it aims for its 10th consecutive GCAC title and to build upon its conference winning streak of 41 games. The last time Xavier lost a league contest was October 29, 2016 at Talladega College in five sets.

Coach Kendrick enters her fourth campaign in charge of the Gold Nuggets having not lost a conference game during her tenure and has claimed back-to-back GCAC Coach of the Year Awards.

The Gold Nuggets were not just a juggernaut in the conference but they showed up on multiple national leaderboards as well. XULA was among the five-best teams in the entire NAIA for serving, placing third in the nation with 305 aces and fifth at an average of 2.2 per set. Even if the opposition was able to return the serve, Xavier (La.) was just as efficient with its attacks in the form of the 11th-highest hitting percentage in the country at .239.

The gold and green are once again loaded with top-end talent including a trio of seniors; Kayla Black, Eva Le Guillou and Vivica Price-Spraggins.

Black was the best player in the GCAC by a wide margin in 2019 as she was recognized as an NAIA All-American Honorable Mention, the GCAC Player of the Year, GCAC Attacker of the Year, named to the All-GCAC First Team and finished 19th in the country with 470 kills.

Le Guillou accompanied Black on the All-GCAC First Team while bringing home the hardware of GCAC Setter of the Year. The French setter had 1,072 assists for an average of 8.1 per set, both tops in the conference. The senior piled up 461 more assists than the second place finisher and was almost a full point better than the next best competitor in assists per set.

Price-Spraggins turned up the heat in the conference tournament, winning GCAC Tournament MVP and earning a spot on the GCAC All-Tournament Team. Her regular season was impressive as well as she was an All-GCAC Second Teamer and was among the top-20 nationally in hitting percentage (.328).

The Gold Nuggets will add to its talent surplus with a NCAA Division I transfer in Semira Blair and eight freshmen as Kennedy Wade and Jaela Drumgole are among the top freshmen making its way to the Crescent City.

Blair spent her Freshman year at the MEAC’s Howard University. In her lone season of action for the Bison, she logged six double-doubles, was second on team in assists with 567, hit .293 and contributed 180 digs, 20 service aces, 18 kills and five blocks while making six starts for the conference champions.

Wade put on a clinic in her high school years at Buchholz as she was named to the All-Area First Team three times, earned Sonic Player of the Game honors three times as a senior and amassed 366 kills plus 236 digs with an eye-popping .432 hitting percentage in her swan song. Over her final two seasons, the Gainesville native put together an astounding 697 kills, 402 digs, 65 service aces and 52 blocks.

Drumgole was a two-time All-District First Teamer and made the First Team All-Metro once during her career at Dutchtown High School.

Xavier (La.) will play more non-conference matchups than all the other GCAC volleyball teams combined during the fall season, competing in seven games before league play begins on February 13 compared.

2019 Record: 31-9 (14-0 GCAC)

2019 Finish: First Place (Won GCAC Championship / Lost in NAIA Tournament Pool Play)

Head Coach: Pat Kendrick (Fourth Season / 80-19 Overall, 40-0 GCAC)

Top Returners:
• Kayla Black (Sr, OH, Houston, Texas)
• Eva Le Guillou (Sr, S, Velizy-Villacoublay, France)
• Vivica Price-Spraggins (Sr, MB, Chicago, Ill.)

Key Players Lost:
• Ema Causevic (GCAC Newcomer of the Year / All-GCAC Second Team / 12th in NAIA in service aces per set / led GCAC in aces / fourth in GCAC in kills / sixth in GCAC in hitting percentage / seventh in GCAC in kills per set)
• Tiffany Phillips (Fifth in GCAC in assists)
• Jaida Dowd (167 kills / 88 digs / 19 blocks / six assists / three aces)

Top Newcomers:
• Semira Blair (So, S, Fort Worth, Texas)
• Kennedy Wade (Fr, DS/OH, Gainesville, Fla.)
• Jaela Drumgole (Fr, L, Geismar, La.)

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