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In the Mississippi Valley,
In the Crescent Bend
Stands our loved and noble Xavier,
Far her praises send.
Wave her colors bear them onward
Gold and white so true
Hail to thee, all hail, dear Xavier
Hail, all hail, X.U.!
Xavier, ever be our guide
And lead us on the way,
Through life's journey, onward, upward
To the eternal day. (Refrain)
2011 Xavier University of Louisiana Women's Volleyball Preview
Can Gold Nuggets turn blank canvas into a masterpiece?
many seasons since its debut in 2003 and enduring a five-year hiatus which ended last year, when the
Gold Nuggets set a school record with 11 victories but also produced a
program-record 26 losses, including 16 in a row.
Christabell Hamilton, the new women's volleyball coach at
Xavier University of Louisiana, compares the 2011 season to an artist's blank canvas.
She also compares it to an identity search.
"How will we fill in that canvas?" asks Hamilton, hired
by XU in June and the program's third head coach in four seasons. "What is our
identity? What will Xavier volleyball be known for?"
Generally, Xavier is known for excellence. The other
six sports programs combined to win 27 conference/unaffiliated group championships
and qualify for 20 NAIA national championships during the past six seasons. But women's
volleyball has struggled, producing three losing records in as
About the Gold Nuggets
• Head Coach: Christabell Hamilton (Eastern New Mexico 2005), first season
• 2010 Record: 11-26 overall, 3-3 Gulf Coast Athletic Conference, third place in GCAC Tournament
• Returning Players: 5
• Newcomers: 7
If the Nuggets' fortunes improve this season, it won't
be Hamilton's first successful coaching turnaround. She was an assistant for five
seasons (2005-09) at Tarleton State University, an NCAA Division II member, and
helped the TexAnns go 22-10 in 2008 — the program's first winning record in
16 seasons — and reach the semifinals of the Lone Star Conference Tournament
for the second time in three years. Tarleton's 2008 team placed second in the LSC
"We will work hard and play hard from start to finish,"
Hamilton said. "We will play with passion and enthusiasm. We will be fundamentally
sound. And our team will be great representatives of Xavier and New Orleans."
Five letterwinners return, including right-side/outside
hitter Iva Bobkova, a senior and an All-Gulf Coast Athletic Conference selection.
Bobkova served 74 aces to rank among NAIA leaders and had 156 kills, 185 digs and,
as a part-time setter, 357 assists.
Also back are seniors Celeste Poe (team-best 307 digs)
and Joyy Joseph (135 digs) on the back row and setter Patrice Hightower (team-high
466 assists). Sophomore middle blocker Kerris Crier had 119 kills and a team-best
51 blocks a year ago.
The 12-player roster will include seven freshmen:
outside hitters Jeanay Butler and Taylor Reuther, setters Alexandria Rencher and
Kia Smith, middle blocker Moira Kirk, middle blocker/right-side Morgan Stallings and
outside hitter/defensive specialist Chinedu Echebelem.
Xavier's 25-match regular-season schedule will begin
Aug. 26 at Belhaven, and the first of nine home matches will be Aug. 29 at The
Barn against Mobile. The GCAC opener will be Sept. 17 against SUNO at The Barn.
There will be six matches, four at home, against NCAA Division I opponents.
That's a positive for Xavier, which has 10 victories against D-Is in its first
The GCAC added two schools, Philander Smith and
Talladega, to increase the 2011-12 membership to eight, Both newcomers play
volleyball. The GCAC schedule was upgraded to 10 matches — each team will
play three opponents twice and four opponents once — followed by a postseason
tournament Nov. 10-12 at Nashville, Tenn., to determine the winner of the league's
automatic bid to the NAIA National Championship. City rival Dillard won last year's GCAC tourney,
with Xavier placing third.