NEW ORLEANS — Taylor Reuther had 12 kills and 15 digs, and Moira Kirk had nine kills and seven blocks Monday in Xavier University of Louisiana’s 25-18, 17-25, 31-29, 16-25, 15-13 women’s volleyball victory against Mobile at The Barn.
Celeste Poe had a career-high 17 digs for Xavier (1-1), and Patrice Hightower had 30 assists and 10 digs.
It was the first victory for new XU coach Christabell Hamilton.
Xavier trailed 12-10 in the fifth set after leading 3-0 and 6-3, but Mobile (2-1) committed five errors thereafter, four on attacks. Kirk and Hightower blocked Lisa Alms’ attack on the final play.
Xavier reached match point with the help of Joyy Joseph’s diving dig, one of a team-leading four she produced in the fifth set.
“We definitely have some fighters on our team,” Hamilton said. “We make a lot of young mistakes. We’re working on trying to find team chemistry and at the same time find maturity in our decision-marking during the match.”
Alms, Alison Kenney and Melody Tenney combined for 11 kills to pull the Lady Rams out of at tie at 8 and force a fifth set.
Xavier trailed 17-15 and 25-24 in the third set before closing with a Jeanay Butler ace and three Reuther kills.
The Nuggets survived despite a combined six kills in the first and final sets. Mobile committed a combined 23 errors during those two periods.
It was the second straight match that Xavier played five sets — the first time that’s happened since 2003, the Nuggets’ debut season — and the second straight match that Reuther, a freshman, recorded a kill-dig double-double.
Mobile, picked fourth out of 11 teams in the Southern States Athletic Conference preseason coaches poll, swept a pair of matches against Xavier last year.
Xavier became the first Gulf Coast Athletic Conference team to win this season — the GCAC was a collective 0-6 prior to Monday — and the first this season to beat a Southern States opponent. The SSAC began the day 21-0, including Belhaven’s victory against Xavier on Friday.
“Our goal is to get better each day,” Hamilton said, “and so far we’re on the right track.”
Xavier’s next match will start at 6 p.m. Sunday against another Southern States team, city rival Loyola, at The Den. The Nuggets will play Judson (Ala.) in their next home match Sept. 8.
NOTES: Attendance for the home opener was 300 — 100 more than Xavier’s largest crowd at The Barn last season . . . The Nuggets are 1-3 in home openers . . . Hamilton said the Nuggets’ regular-season and GCAC finale against Dillard at The Barn was pushed back one hour to 2 p.m.