XU survives Dillard, finishes 10-0 in GCAC regular season
November 5, 2011
NEW ORLEANS — Coach Christabell Hamilton wasn't
sure if her Xavier University of Louisiana women's volleyball team could
withstand a late Dillard comeback Saturday. Her players, however, said
it was business as usual.
Taylor Reuther had 13 kills, 14 digs and three aces,
and Xavier erased a five-point fourth-set deficit to defeat Dillard 25-13,
25-13, 23-25, 25-21 in a Gulf Coast Athletic Conference match at The Barn.
The Gold Nuggets (19-6, 10-0) became the third GCAC team in six years to
finish the regular season unbeaten in conference matches.
"I trust my teammates," said Reuther, who recorded her
ninth kill-dig double-double of the season. "When we stay together we can
accomplish so much more."
"We've come back before," said teammate Celeste Poe,
who also had 14 digs and reached double figures for the 11th time this season.
"We're a good comeback team."
But a comeback wasn't in the Gold Nuggets' early plans.
Xavier led 8-0 in the first set and 14-3 in the second as it cruised to a
commanding lead. Then the Lady Bleu Devils, the 2010 GCAC Tournament champion,
stayed alive by rallying from 15-10 and 23-21 deficits in the third. Jessica
Goods-Morris had six kills and four blocks in the third, and she clinched the set
with a kill after Krista Hall stretched for a sideline dig.
"The momentum was shifting all toward Dillard," said
Hamilton, hired by Xavier in mid-June. "I thought our team was shocked that Dillard
was coming back. Dillard's not the kind of team that's going to give you a win."
"We got too comfortable," Reuther said, "and Dillard stepped up their game."
Goods-Morris had five kills and and two blocks during an
11-4 run which gave Dillard a 19-14 lead in the fourth, but the Gold Nuggets scored
11 of the final 13 points, six on Dillard errors, to complete a two-match sweep of
their city rival. Reuther, Moira Kirk, Jeanay Butler and Iva Bobkova each
contributed a kill during the final 13 rallies.
"I knew we could push through like that and handle it,"
said Kirk, who had six blocks — her most since mid-September — and 10 kills.
"Under pressure we stay together instead of folding and getting angry at each other."
It was Xavier's eighth consecutive victory in a match longer than three sets.
Butler had a career-best nine kills. Butler, Poe and Bobkova each served two aces.
Goods-Morris had 13 kills and 10 blocks for Dillard (15-10, 7-3).
Paula Ogbevoen had eight kills, 12 digs and six blocks, and Samantha Salao had 19 digs.
Xavier will be the No. 1 seed in the GCAC Tournament at Nashville, Tenn.,
and play eighth-seeded Edward Waters in the opening round at 10 a.m. Thursday.
The tournament winner will receive an automatic bid to the NAIA National Championship,
which will begin Nov. 19.
Hamilton, in her first season as a collegiate head coach, led
the Gold Nuggets to their first winning record in the the program's fourth year. Xavier
was 11-26 in 2010 and a combined 5-17 in its first three GCAC seasons.
"It's amazing," Hamilton said. "It's such a great feeling.
We clinched the title last week, but to be able to finish 10-0 in the conference . . .
I credit our team for trusting me. It's so rewarding and such a blessing to see
what we've accomplished."