Given a chance to play against someone else, the Northwestern State volleyball team made Sean Kiracofe a happy coach Saturday afternoon.
The Lady Demons downed Louisiana Tech, 3-1 (25-19, 25-15, 24-26, 25-20), in an exhibition inside Prather Coliseum that left the fourth-year coach in good spirits less than a week ahead of NSU’s season opener.
Even when the Lady Demons trailed by eight in the third set, Kiracofe saw positives emerge.
“I couldn’t have asked for anything more, except for one more point, in that third set,” he said. “They showed some nerves. They showed they were uncomfortable, but they had a great comeback. They were in complete control of the set, but it went the wrong way the last two points. I was very happy with that.”
Down 20-12 in the third set, Northwestern State scored 12 of the next 15 points and was in position to complete a sweep with an unfamiliar lineup on the court. During its 11-3 run, the Lady Demons primary had three juniors, two sophomores and one freshman in the lineup.
The comeback showcased the depth Northwestern State has accrued through four season under Kiracofe and underscored its ability to make adjustments.
“Our passing got a lot better,” said Hannah Brister, the reigning Southland Conference Freshman of the Year, who finished with 11 kills. “We were getting our feet there on the block. Getting a run of points pumps you up.”
One of those runs came in the opening set. Down 16-15, NSU broke from a timeout with a 6-0 run, spearheaded by three Reagan Rogers kills, all of which came on sets by junior setter Cayman Sutton.
With senior setter Kathryn Wristen out because of an injury, Sutton and Besch made the most of their Lady Demons debuts.
Sutton played the majority of the first two sets, handing out 18 assists and chipping in three kills. Besch doled out 23 assists and a pair of kills.
The Lady Demons hit a match-best .308 in the second set and wound up outhitting the Lady Techsters, .217-.113, for the match.
Rogers and Alexis Warren joined Hannah Brister in double figures with 12 kills each. Lara Hendricks knocked down a match-high 14 kills for Louisiana Tech.
Warren tallied a team-best 17 digs while defending SLC Libero of the Year Channing Burleson posted 14 in just three sets.
Besch’s 23 assists were a match high, and she delivered both of her kills in the fourth set as the Lady Demons built an eight-point lead late in the set before Brister’s match-clinching kill. Both of the left-hander’s kills highlighted her offensive ability.
“I knew I hadn’t swung all match,” said Besch, who served a 4-0 run in the third set to help the Lady Demons take a 24-23 lead. “I could see the block, and I knew the middles weren’t really on me and the outsides were. I went up and swung and it was wide open.”