Volleyball loses marathon championship match to XULA

The volleyball team dropped a five-set thriller against Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA) in the Red River Athletic Conference (RRAC) Tournament Championship Match. The Saints are now 21-5 overall. The Gold Nuggets receive an automatic bid to the NAIA Volleyball Championships. Tijana Kruta and Camila Ramirez were named to the All-Tournament Team.

Head Coach Scott Mattera commented, “We knew it was going to be a battle and it was an absolute classic of a championship match. We can analyze all we want but the bottom line is that one single bounce and we are celebrating rather than in tears. The effort was there and I’m so proud of this team. This will be fuel and the future is bright!”

The Saints were 5-2 against the Gold Nuggets prior to the match.

The Saints won a competitive first set 25-22. Ramirez recorded three kills in the final five points and OLLU had three aces. The Gold Nuggets responded in the second set with a .382 hitting percentage. Both teams had double digit kills in the second frame, but Angela Egonu’s power sealed the set for the Gold Nuggets.

The back-and-forth contest continued after the match was evened by Xavier. The Saints forced XULA into 13 errors in the third set. OLLU won the final five points of the set to take a 2-1 lead. The Saints committed costly errors towards the end of the following set. The frame was tied 18-18 and the Gold Nuggets won seven of the next eight points.

Championship honors were on the line in the fifth and deciding set. The Saints jumped out to an 11-8 advantage and forced a timeout by the Gold Nuggets. The teams swapped points and OLLU eventually had a match point at 14-12. Egonu recorded another kill for Xavier and Ramirez followed with an attacking error. Kennedy Wade had a pair of kills following the 14-14 tie to give XULA the title.

Scoring overview
Set One – OLLU 25 – XULA 22
Set Two – XULA 25 – OLLU 17
Set Three – OLLU 25 – XULA 16
Set Four – XULA 25 – OLLU 19
Set Five – XULA 16 – OLLU 14

Set review
In the first set, OLLU recorded 15 kills and seven errors on 36 total attacks for a hitting percentage of .222.

The Saints had 11 kills in the second set and three errors on 31 total attacks for a hitting percentage of .258.

In the third set, OLLU recorded six kills and three errors on 26 total attacks for a hitting percentage of .115.

The Saints had nine kills in the fourth set and seven errors on 34 total attacks for a hitting percentage of .059.

In the fifth set, OLLU recorded five kills and four errors on 29 total attacks for a hitting percentage of .034.

On the offense
Overall, the Saints had 46 kills for a hitting percentage of .141. XULA totaled 63 kills for a hitting percentage of .189.

Ramirez led the Saints with 15 kills. Egonu totaled a team-high 20 kills for the Gold Nuggets.

Lauren Reynard assisted on 40 plays for the Saints. Emi Riglioni tallied 28 assists for the Gold Nuggets.

Defensive standouts
OLLU had a total of 60 digs, led by Ramirez with 22. Linda Mungai tallied 29 digs for XULA.

Serving it up
Ramirez and Julissa Casas had two aces apiece for the Saints. Three different Gold Nuggets players had one service ace each.

What’s next
The Saints will have a chance at a bid to the NAIA Volleyball Championships. The announcements for the 48-team bracket will be made today at 10 a.m.