LARAMIE, Wyoming – Just when you think you’re out, they pull you back in.
Northwestern State volleyball had all but resigned the 2019 season to the record books when the National Invitational Volleyball Championship tournament came calling offering the second postseason berth in program history.
It was a call that fifth-year head coach Sean Kiracofe gladly accepted if for nothing else as a cherry on top of a stellar season.
“It’s great validation for the program as a whole,” Kiracofe said. “We had a great run before I got here with the Hernesmans, being second in conference and then winning the championship in 2014. To be able to back that up years later with this success and even the potential that we had in 2018 and a great season in 17.
“It’s hard to define how much of a validation it is. That it will be a continual thing that this volleyball program is going to have an impact on the Southland Conference.”
The Lady Demons (20-12) take on Wyoming in the first round of the NIVC tournament Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. It is just the second postseason match in Northwestern State volleyball history.
After a 3-1 loss in the semifinal of the SLC tournament a week and a half ago, the Lady Demons said their farewells and all but hung up their jerseys to enjoy Thanksgiving break. With a week off and not a volleyball in sight, the Lady Demons had to get back to action quickly once the NIVC field was completed.
“Monday was just about knocking that little bit of rust off,” Kiracofe said. “I told them ‘touch the ball, play some, it’s going to be ugly, you’re going to make some dumb mistake.’ Tuesday was much more what we’ve done in terms of implementing a scout, more detail orientation about things with more competitive drive to it.”
One of the driving forces for the Lady Demons all season has been the senior leadership and the experience they bring to the floor that naturally carries over to the rest of team. Those intangibles will be what NSU needs when they face Wyoming in the opening round Thursday night.
With nine players standing 6-feet tall or better, the Cowgirls (21-8) possess one of if not the biggest roster NSU has faced this season. Wyoming finished second in the Mountain West Conference with its only two losses in league play coming to undefeated champion Colorado State.
Their spread-out attack is led by all-conference sophomore KC McMahon and her 318 kills. Two other all-conference players have over 270 kills on the season with another checking in at 188 on the year.
“They’re definitely going to be bigger than us,” Kiracofe said. “We do have a few matchups from a physical standpoint that benefit us. I feel like we are going to be able to present them with some matchup issues based just on the way we play. It’s just a matter of if we can get into those scenarios or not.”
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Photo credit: Chris Reich, NSU Photographic Services