Nashville, Tenn. - The Southern University at New Orleans Lady Knights completed a 20-11 season at the 2011 GCAC Tournament at Fisk University. SUNO, who had the third seed after going 7-3 in regular season conference play, went 4-2 in the double elimination tournament where they eventually lost to Xavier in the championship match. Sophomore outside hitter Zipporah Washington and freshman outside hitter Christal Kay Hollins were named to the All-Tournament Team.
The weekend began on Thursday afternoon against Fisk who the Lady Knights defeated 3-0 (25-18, 25-8, 25-19). SUNO managed a .408 team hitting percentage and 5 service aces, which included 3 by sophomore libero Shametria Gonzales. In the second round, however, the Lady Knights suffered their first loss of the tournament to second-seeded Dillard. In the 3-1 loss, SUNO lost momentum after a 25-17 opening set win. The Lady Bleu Devils, to whom SUNO lost the 2010 championship, rallied to win the next three sets 25-15, 25-20, 25-19, sending SUNO to the losers' bracket. The Lady Knights' hitting percentage was only .164 for that match.
The Lady Knights did not have to compete until 2 p.m. on Friday when they met Tougaloo. Off to a slow start, the Lady Knights dropped their first set 25-23, but roared back to the take the next three sets 25-12, 25-11, 25-9. SUNO benefited from outstanding serves, acing the Lady Bulldogs 19 times with Hollins leading the way with 9 of her own. After five-set marathon matches between Talladega and Fisk followed by Xavier vs. Dillard, SUNO did not hit the court to battle Talladega until 9:40 p.m. Fueled by the desire to meet Dillard again, the Lady Knights quickly disposed of the Tornadoes 25-18, 25-12, 25-16. SUNO turned in an impressive 55-minute defeat which included 11 services aces, 4 team solo blocks, and 6 team block assists. Sophomore middle blocker Sabrina Scott had a 12-kill game which included a .407 hitting percentage.
Just over twelve hours elapsed before the Lady Knights faced the Lady Bleu Devils. Both Hollins and Scott gave SUNO 13 kills, each as SUNO rallied from a 1-0 set deficit to eliminate Dillard from the tournament. Three of the four sets resulted in 3-point differences with a 25-22 first-set win by Dillard and 25-22, 25-17, 25-22 wins by SUNO to follow. With the 11 a.m. match ending at approximately 1 p.m., the battle-weary Lady Knights only had 30 minutes to prepare for the top-seeded and rested Xavier Gold Nuggets. Xavier downed SUNO 25-12, 25-17, 25-20 to win the GCAC crown.
An outstanding tournament performance was turned in by the 6'4" Scott. She led SUNO with a total of 73 kills, had an ace, had 7 solo blocks, and a team-leading 5 block assists. Scott scored 75.5 points and had a hitting percentage of .450 in 21 sets. Washington had 67 kills and scored a team-leading 76.5 points for the tournament. She also contributed 7 blocks and 7 block assists. Hollins had 38 kills and led the Lady Knights in service aces with 14. Stephanie Buhl, a freshman setter from Boenen, Germany, had a total of 169 assists; and Gonzales led in digs with a total of 87. In her second season as a college coach, Naomi Washington reached 30 wins.
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