Burleson, Brister earn Academic All-SLC honors


From either an academic or athletic standpoint, the 2018 All-Southland Conference volleyball teams looked a lot alike for Northwestern State.

When the conference announced its Academic All-Conference squads Monday, a pair of Lady Demons found themselves in the same place they were a month ago when the league released its all-conference teams.

Channing Burleson repeated as a first-team Academic All-SLC selection while Hannah Brister earned her first such honor, being named to the six-player second team.

“We have high expectations and put a strong focus on the classroom within our program,” fourth-year head coach Sean Kiracofe said. “We want everyone to consistently improve academically as well as on the court. We have been fortunate to have athletes who are some of the best at their positions in the SLC and within their academic majors here at NSU.”

Burleson, a senior from Midland, Texas, earned Academic All-SLC acclaim in each of her final three seasons, beginning with a second-team selection following her sophomore year.

A two-time first-team all-conference pick and the 2017 SLC Libero of the Year, Burleson owns a 3.66 cumulative grade point average while majoring in Northwestern State’s nationally recognized nursing program.

In her senior year, Burleson ranked second in the Southland Conference in digs per set (4.88) and fifth in total digs (493). Her 1,879 career digs are good for second in school history and rank her second in school history and are 25th among active Division I players.

“It’s continuously impressive that Channing can be the best libero in the conference while managing the academic and time responsibilities called for within the nursing program,” Kiracofe said.

Brister, the 2017 SLC Freshman of the Year, was brilliant down the stretch of conference play, averaging 4.4 kills per set while hitting .278 on 345 attempts in the second half of SLC play.

Overall, Brister ranked fifth in the conference in kills per set (3.17) and in points per set (3.65), leading Northwestern State in both categories.

“Moving into the 2019 season, Hannah is becoming one of the best overall players in the Southland,” Kiracofe said. “She is a great role model for incoming student-athletes that you need to commit yourself to succeeding in both the classroom and on the court.”

Stephen F. Austin setter Ann Hollas was named the Southland Conference Volleyball Student-Athlete of the Year. Abilene Christian led the conference with three first-team academic all-conference selections.