LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — This volleyball season, Southern University at New Orleans’ Sisyphus pushed that boulder know as Xavier higher up the hill than it ever had before. The Lady Knights snapped the Gold Nuggets’ epic conference win streak with a five-set win. They earned a share of the conference regular season championship for the first time and stormed through the first two rounds of the 2015 GCAC Volleyball Championship.
After SUNO took a 1-0 lead in Saturday’s final, it seemed as if the Lady Knights could even see to the other side of the hill. We can never truly know if SUNO wasn’t strong enough to finish the task or if Xavier was simply too heavy to bear. What we do know is that Xavier did what champions do. The Gold Nuggets won the final three sets and with them the title of 2015 GCAC Tournament Champion.
Fittingly, the Gold Nuggets were led by their seniors. Xavier got 51 of its 57 kills from Claudia Haywood (16), Jodi Hill (11), Taylor Reuther (10), CeCe Williams (9), and Fran Pirkl (5). Pirkl also had 46 assists, a career-high for her in a four-set match. Darian Harris (24) led four players with double figures in digs. Williams, Pirkl, and Reuther combined for 33.
Xavier outhit SUNO .181 to .159 and topped the Lady Knights in kills (57-45) assists (52-46), and service aces (8-4). SUNO had a slight advantage in total digs, 71-70.
Adriana Titonea played well for the Lady Knights, picking up 12 kills on .273 hitting. Shannon Jones (eight kills, nine digs) and Johnee LeBlanc (eight kills, 20 digs) just missed out on double-doubles. Ana Privrat had 19 digs and Marija Stojijkovic had 24 assists.
2015 GCAC Championship FInal
(1) Xavier defeats (2) SUNO, 3-1
|Kills||Claudia Haywood, 16||Adriana Titonea, 12|
|Digs||Darian Harris, 24||Johnee LeBlanc, 20|
|Assists||Franziska Pirkl, 46||Marija Stojijkovic, 24|
2015 GCAC Volleyball All-Tournament Team
|Kaylin Davison||Edward Waters|
|TOURNAMENT MOST VALUABLE PLAYER – Claudia Haywood, Xavier|