CONWAY, Arkansas – Northwestern State volleyball did not let history repeat itself on Tuesday night.
The Lady Demons (14-7, 6-1 SLC) learned from their only conference loss to Sam Houston three weeks ago and remained focused and consistent against a quality defensive side.
Behind yet another dominant defensive effort and steady offense, the Lady Demons knocked off the Central Arkansas (8-12, 2-5 SLC) on their home floor 3-1 (27-25, 19-25, 25-22, 25-22).
“UCA played great defense which is to be expected from them,” coach Sean Kiracofe said. “It was very similar to the Sam Houston match from a defensive standpoint. Our attackers did a better job of staying consistent, remembering situations, and looking for opportunities.
“There is always something you can take away from any win or loss, and the Sam match was a nice learning moment for the first half of SLC matches.”
NSU controlled play through much of the early part of set one, taking a 14-9 lead on a block from Kourtney Seaton and Skylar Besch. The Sugar Bears hung around and with a late 4-0 run earned a set-point.
Hannah Brister kept the Lady Demons alive with a kill, then two more from the Southland’s top attacker gave NSU a chance to steal the opening frame. Another big block, this time from Seaton and Darria Williams put NSU in the driver’s seat, up 1-0 in the match.
The second set would go the way of the home team as UCA responded to take the 25-19 set and even the match. NSU hit a match-low .152 in the second while UCA had their best hitting set at .351.
Not phased by the misstep in offense, the Lady Demons turned to their defense and play at the net to push them back on top.
“Skylar really had a great match at the net tonight,” Kiracofe said. “She and Darria (Williams) keep improving incrementally on the block. Both middles are working really hard which is paying off, and I’d put Lex and Hannah up against anyone in the SLC as blocking outsides.
“As a coach who got their start with a focus on blocking systems, I’m proud of their improvement. I saw that but I’m still going to point out where they could have got one more block.”
After losing a point on a long, dramatic rally near the end of the frame, a kill from Alexis Warren squelched any UCA momentum and propelled NSU to the 25-22 win and a 2-1 match advantage.
The fourth was the most competitive set from start to finish of the match, staying within two points on either side the entire time. Tied at 21, Seaton stepped up to the plate in a big way for the Lady Demons.
The senior recorded a kill and two block assists on a 3-0 NSU run that gave them the advantage they needed to secure the set and match.
Seaton and Besch finished the night with a combined 11 of the 19 total block assists, the second most in any match this season.
Brister and Warren each recorded kill-dig double-doubles, setters Besch and Cayman Sutton each had over 20 assists and Reagan Lee had a career-best 11 kills on an impressive .647 hitting percentage.
The Lady Demons host McNeese on Saturday at 11 a.m. to begin a stretch of three straight home conference matches.
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Photo Credit: Christ Reich, NSU Photographic Services