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Xavier will attempt to win its second consecutive GCAC Tournament

The GCAC Tournament title gives XU a second consecutive automatic berth in the NAIA National Championship.

Nuggets repeat as GCAC champion; Echebelem is MVP

November 10, 2012

     LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Xavier University of Louisiana's women's volleyball team defeated Tougaloo 25-15,
25-13, 25-16 Saturday to win the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Tournament for the second consecutive year.
     The Gold Nuggets (22-7, 4-0 tournament) became the first HBCU to qualify for the NAIA National Championship in consecutive seasons. They'll play a first-round match next Saturday against an opponent to be announced.
     Xavier's Chinedu Echebelem was chosen tournament MVP and was joined on the all-tournament team by teammates Moira Kirk and Taylor Reuther. All three are sophomores.
     "It is an amazing feeling to be able to accomplish the same thing we did last year," said Christabell Hamilton, whose Gold Nuggets are 28-0 against GCAC opponents during her two seasons as coach. "I am very proud of my team and their hard work since August."
     Tougaloo had less than an hour to prepare for Xavier after rallying for a five-set semifinal victory against SUNO. The Lady Bulldogs (23-14) won the final two sets. They turned an 11-6 deficit into a 15-13 fifth-set victory which earned them their first berth in the final and denied SUNO a third consecutive appearance in the championship round.
     Xavier never trailed against Tougaloo until 1-0 and 2-1 in the third set. The Nuggets led 4-0 and 10-4 in the opening set and 7-1 and 13-3 in the middle set. They scored five consecutive points in the final set to build a 10-4 lead.
     "Tougaloo was tired by the time they played us," Hamilton said. "They had some main players go down with injuries from the previous match and during ours, and that was a factor. However, we played very well. We controlled momentum the whole time, and we were able to play all of our players."
     Echebelem excelled despite knee injuries which kept her out of the opening tournament match Thursday against Philander Smith. Echebelem played the final three matches, and "she played great," Hamilton said. "She's the kind of kid every coach wants to have on their team. I admire her fight and her love for the game and her teammates."
     Echebelem said she was given the option to sit out the tournament, but she declined. "I fought through my pain for my team," Echebelem said. "All my teammates worked together to win the championship."
     Hamilton used Echebelem on the front row only and subbed in CeCe Williams when Echebelem rotated to the back row.
     The Nuggets have won six in a row, 9-of-10 and 17 of their last 20 matches.
     For the second consecutive year, all three of XU's fall teams won conference championships. The men's and women's cross country teams each won seventh consecutive GCAC titles in October. The volleyball Nuggets, in their fifth season of intercollegiate competition, are 45-14 during Hamilton's tenure. They were 30-73 the first three seasons.


Gulf Coast Athletic Conference

National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics
The Xavier Gold Rush and Gold Nuggets compete in Division I of the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) as a member of the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference (GCAC). Xavier fields men's teams in basketball, cross country, tennis and track and field and women's teams in basketball, cross country, tennis, track and field and volleyball.

Department of Intercollegiate Athletics
Xavier University of Louisiana
1 Drexel Drive
Campus Box 92
New Orleans, LA 70125
(504) 520-7329 phone
(504) 520-7934 fax

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