Belhaven escapes in the fifth to spoil Hamilton's XU debut
August 26, 2011
JACKSON, Miss. — For just the second time in
Xavier University of Louisiana's women's volleyball history, the Gold Nuggets
forced a fifth set after losing the first two.
But Belhaven escaped with a 25-19, 25-17, 18-25, 24-26,
15-12 victory Friday in the 2011 opener for both teams and the XU debut of head
coach Christabell Hamilton.
"We started off slow and very timid. It was the
collegiate debut of our seven freshmen, and they were very much overwhelmed,"
Hamilton said. "But once we got our rhythm, things started clicking for us."
Xavier outhit Belhaven .260 to .085 in the final three
sets after the Blazers outhit the Nuggets .273 to minus-.057 in the first two.
Freshmen accounted for 36 of Xavier's 45 kills, with
Taylor Reuther collecting 16 and Chinedu Echebelem 10 in their debuts. Reuther
also had 17 digs and two aces, and senior Celeste Poe had a career-high-tying 16 digs.
Taylor Williams had 16 kills and 20 digs for Belhaven.
Christina Atwood had 13 kills, Samantha O'Malley 11 and Natalie Davis 10 for the
Blazers. Katherine Owen had 17 digs, and Serita Owen had six blocks.
Belhaven outhit Xavier .154 to .121 for the match, and
both teams had 63 digs. The Blazers had eight more kills than Xavier, plus
advantages of 7-3 in aces and 11-5 in blocks.
Belhaven did not drop a set in beating Xavier twice
last season. The Blazers won at Xavier in the Nuggets' 2010 opener, which was XU's
first intercollegiate match since 2004.
"To stick it out and fight to the fifth set showed heart
and character," Hamilton said. "The upperclassmen did a good job in being good
leaders and keeping things calm out there.
"It's tough to fight that hard and not get that win,
especially on the road, but we now know what we are capable of. We are coming
back Sunday to keep working on getting better."
Xavier will play its home opener at 7 p.m. Monday
against Mobile at The Barn.
NOTES: Reuther, a standout last season
at St. Mary's Dominican High School in New Orleans, did something no Gold Nugget
did last season — reach 15 kills and 15 digs in the same match. Erin Vincent
had three kill-dig double-doubles in 2010 and didn't record her first until
XU's 16th match . . . Belhaven's Ashley Stathas, an assistant at USC Upstate the
past four seasons, also made her collegiate head-coaching debut . . . The only other
time Xavier reached a fifth set after dropping the first two was in a Gulf Coast
Athletic Conference home victory against Dillard last season . . . Hamilton said
the Nuggets' GCAC opener against SUNO at The Barn on Sept. 17 was pushed back to