With one final week to impress voters for weekly and yearly Southland Conference honors, juniors Reagan Rogers and Channing Burleson did just that.
The Lady Demons (15-16, 10-6 SLC) swept the offensive and defensive player of the week awards after a 2-0 week with straigh-set wins against Nicholls (4-25, 2-14 SLC) and McNeese (19-12, 10-6 SLC), the league announced Monday.
Thanks to the two big wins, Northwestern State claimed the No. 5 seed in the 2017 Southland Conference Volleyball Tournament in Corpus Christi, Texas, this Friday through Sunday.
“It’s a little added momentum to get that recognition, which is well deserved,” third-year head coach Sean Kiracofe said. “Both Reagan and Channing have been producing that way for the majority of the conference season, so it’s good to finally get that recognition toward the end. They are stepping up in the biggest moments, and we expect to see that again on Friday.
Rogers, the Southland’s total kills and kills per set leader, recorded 30 kills, six aces and her 12th double-double of the season in two sweeps en route to her first weekly honor of her career. She paced the Lady Demons offense in both matches, putting up match highs in kills with 17 against Nicholls and 13 against McNeese. Rogers was efficient as well, averaging a .225 hitting percentage in the week’s two matches.
Down 19-16 in the second set against McNeese, Rogers took serve and led her team to an 8-0 scoring streak to take the lead and eventually win the set. She scored three aces in that run. She also added 15 digs against McNeese, securing her 12th double-double of the season – tied for third-most in the conferece.
Burleson picked up her second weekly honor as she led the Lady Demons’ defense with 43 digs in six sets.
Against Nicholls, Burleson dug 26 attacks – the most amongst SLC players in a three-set conference match this season. She backed up her strong performance on Thursday with another acrobatic showing Saturday against McNeese. Burleson dug the ball 17 times in the match, many of which being pancakes, as the Lady Demons held the Cowgirls to a .189 hitting percentage in the final two sets.
Averaging more than seven digs per set this week, Burleson upped her conference-best digs per set to average 5.50 in league matches. With 330 digs in Southland matches, Burleson ends the season as the top digs leader and just one of two league players to reach the 300 mark.
The Lady Demons return to the court Friday against Houston Baptist in the opening round of the conference tournament. NSU has faced the Huskies twice this season, dropping both matches.