The Northwestern State volleyball team’s 2019 schedule reverts to the mean after taking a different tact a year ago.
The Lady Demons announced their 29-match slate Thursday, setting the stage for Year Five of the Sean Kiracofe era. The 29 matches are an increase of four regular-season matches from 2018.
The main difference comes in tournament play where Northwestern State reverts to playing three matches in three of its four tournaments. A season ago, NSU played two matches in three of its four tournaments.
“It’s becoming the new norm to schedule tournaments where teams only play two matches,” Kiracofe said. “It allows you to game plan and focus on fewer teams, which is easier for players to process scout information and the obvious, which is there is less physical stress on the players.”
With a roster that must replace five seniors, Kiracofe made the decision to resume playing a higher number of regular-season matches.
“We are playing more matches than we did last season,” he said. “Last year, we had a very veteran team and the thought was to keep them fresh as we went into conference. We return a lot of experience, but we will have a fairly new look after what we lost to graduation, so this group needs time on the court to get ready for conference.”
Northwestern State starts its season with the first of three matches at the Arkansas Invitational on Aug. 30. Joining the Lady Demons in the field are host Arkansas, Little Rock and Montana.
After the first of two mid-week matches – at Jackson State on Sept. 3 – the Lady Demons join host South Alabama, Mississippi Valley State and Tennessee State in the South Alabama Invitational Sept. 6-7 before heading to Texas A&M for a Sept. 12-13 tournament featuring the host Aggies, UT-Rio Grande Valley and Texas State.
The Lady Demons conclude the non-conference portion of the schedule by hosting Prairie View A&M in their home opener Sept. 18 before facing Brown and host Georgia State in a two-match tournament Sept. 20-21.
“The md-week matches allow us to stay in rhythm, try some new lineups, or immediately put some corrections in place from the previous weekend,” Kiracofe said. “I really like the opportunity to play only two matches at Georgia State to allow us to slow things down and rest a bit before SLC play starts.”
Conference play begins for Northwestern State with a pair of home matches against Sam Houston State (Sept. 26) and Houston Baptist (Sept. 28).
Those are two of NSU’s eight home conference matches, joining Prather Coliseum contests with Lamar (Oct. 8), McNeese (Oct. 19), Abilene Christian (Oct. 24), Stephen F. Austin (Oct. 26), Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (Nov. 14) and Incarnate Word (Nov. 16).
NSU’s road conference schedule features a four-game road swing from Oct. 31-Nov. 9 that takes the Lady Demons to New Orleans (Oct. 31), Nicholls (Nov. 2), Sam Houston State (Nov. 7) and Houston Baptist (Nov. 9). Additionally, NSU visits Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (Oct. 3), Incarnate Word (Oct 5), Southeastern Louisiana (Oct. 10) and Central Arkansas (Oct. 15).
“The last few years of conference have been very competitive and have shown a lot of parity in the league, and I don’t expect any change in 2019,” Kiracofe said. “The programs we play twice this season are teams we have always had dramatic matches against, so there is no question those games will be entertaining whether they are on the road or in Prather.”
2019 Northwestern State Volleyball Schedule
Aug. 30-31 at Arkansas Invitational (Arkansas, Little Rock, Montana) Fayetteville, Ark.
Sept. 3 at Jackson State Jackson, Miss.
Sept. 6 vs. Mississippi Valley State Mobile, Ala.
Sept. 6 at South Alabama Mobile, Ala.
Sept. 7 Tennessee State Mobile, Ala.
Sept. 12-13 at Texas A&M Tournament (Texas A&M, UTRGV, Texas State) College Station, Texas
Sept. 18 Prairie View A&M Natchitoches
Sept. 20-12 at Georgia State Tournament (Georgia State, Brown) Atlanta
Sept. 26 Sam Houston State* Natchitoches
Sept. 28 Houston Baptist* Houston
Oct. 3 at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi* Corpus Christi, Texas
Oct. 5 at Incarnate Word* San Antonio
Oct. 10 at Southeastern Louisiana* Hammond
Oct. 15 at Central Arkansas* Conway, Arkansas
Oct. 19 McNeese* Natchitoches
Oct. 24 Abilene Christian* Natchitoches
Oct. 26 Stephen F. Austin* Natchitoches
Oct. 31 at New Orleans* New Orleans
Nov. 2 at Nicholls* Thibodaux
Nov. 7 at Sam Houston State* Huntsville, Texas
Nov. 9 at Houston Baptist* Houston
Nov. 14 Texas A&M-Corpus Christi* Natchitoches
Nov. 16 Incarnate Word* Natchitoches
Nov. 22-24 Southland Conference Tournament Conway, Ark.
Photo Credit: Gary Hardamon/NSU Photographic Services