The steps the Northwestern State volleyball team has taken in the first three years of the Sean Kiracofe coaching era will continue for another three seasons.
Northwestern State Director of Athletics Greg Burke announced a three-year contract extension for Kiracofe on Tuesday. The extension, which runs through the 2020 season, was approved by the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors at its Feb. 22 meeting in Baton Rouge.
“This contract extension for Sean is well-earned and is a testament to his hard work in positioning the program for another run of success similar to that of a few years ago,” Burke said. “He has done a nice job of grooming a recruiting class that he inherited to the point that they are playing in his system and at a high level.
“Off the court, a culture is in place that emphasizes academic focus and community service. His student-athletes have bought into that platform and are doing a great job of representing NSU under Sean’s leadership.”
Kiracofe was hired at Northwestern State in April 2015 and inherited a roster that lost six of the top eight players from the 2014 Southland Conference Tournament championship squad, a team that won the program’s first conference volleyball championship (either regular or postseason) and reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time.
After winning seven games his first season, Kiracofe has led Northwestern State to 27 wins in the past two seasons and a 10-6 Southland Conference mark in the 2017 season.
The Lady Demons have produced a pair of Southland Conference individual honorees as Channing Burleson was named Libero of the Year and Hannah Brister was tabbed the Freshman of the Year in 2017 as Northwestern State won its most matches (15) since the 2014 season.
Kiracofe made the decision to move Burleson to libero after her freshman season and, in the two ensuing seasons, Burleson has posted the No. 3 and No. 4 single-season dig totals in school history. Burleson will enter her senior season second in school history in career digs (1,386).
Brister played out of position most of her freshman season but still put down 269 kills while hitting .222 from the right side.
Reagan Rogers, who along with Burleson was one of the five-member signing class Kiracofe inherited when he was hired, produced a first-team All-Southland Conference season after posting the second-most single-season kills (427) in school history. Rogers became the first Lady Demon selected to the first-team All-Southland squad since 2014.
“My family and I have really fallen in love with Natchitoches, so to have what we have been able to accomplish with the growth of the program in the last three seasons acknowledged with a contract extension is very meaningful and greatly appreciated” said Kiracofe, whose team will host the 2018 Southland Conference Tournament in Prather Coliseum.
“The Hernesmans (former co-head coaches Hugh and Stephanie Hernesman) clearly did an amazing job creating a winning culture with this program, but once you get to the top and win a conference championship, everything doesn’t just start being easy. There will be ups and downs no matter what. This senior class, along with everyone else on the roster, has worked and fought for the chance to be back at the top of the Southland. They have bought into what we do in practice, new offensive and defensive systems and all of my experiments. They’ve made it a great three seasons and we’re looking forward to the future.”