Northwestern State volleyball can circle a date for the start of the 2021 spring season, with the Southland Conference announcement of a league-wide schedule on Monday.
The Lady Demons take the court on Feb. 4 at Sam Houston State for the first of 12 Southland Conference matches that make up the first spring volleyball season. NSU’s first home match comes a week later when it hosts Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Feb. 11.
“Even when the announcement came out in August about the season being pushed to the spring it still felt like we wouldn’t get to play again for a long time,” sixth-year head coach Sean Kiracofe said. “Now that we get to actually look at a schedule with dates it feels right around the corner, which is both exciting and, as a coaching staff, a bit nerve-racking to get everything planned in the gym and logistically.”
NSU plays each team in the Southland once during the eight-week long season, which includes two open weeks for the entire conference the weeks of Feb. 16 and March 9.
The Lady Demons open the season against three teams coming off SLC Tournament appearances – Sam Houston, Houston Baptist and Corpus. NSU faced both SHSU and HBU in the tournament a year ago and open this season with those all-too-familiar opponents.
“No way around it, it’s a difficult way to open up the SLC schedule,” Kiracofe said. “Last year we handled that same schedule well and it set us up for one of the best seasons in program history.
“It would be nice to have history repeat itself but we’re going to have a completely different look on the court going into this spring so every matchup is going to be a new experience for this team. That difficult start is going to show us exactly where we are at, what works, and what needs to improve which I’d rather figure out early in the schedule than later.”
Four of the six total home matches take place in a month’s time starting with the Islanders on Feb. 11. The Lady Demons then host UIW (Feb. 13), Southeastern La. (Feb. 25) and Central Arkansas (March 2). They close out the regular season at Prather Coliseum with New Orleans (March 25) and Nicholls (March 27).
“Those difficult matches early on will show us right where we are as a team so it will be nice to have a home stretch to build on our positives and improve on our deficiencies,” Kiracofe said.
The schedule remains tentative and subject to change based on numerous factors, including health conditions in each of the communities as institutions continue to follow specific guidelines from the NCAA as well as local and university medical authorities.
It is expected that COVID-19 guidelines with regards to seating capacity and social distancing inside Prather Coliseum will still be in place in the spring.
Fans are encouraged to visit nsudemons.com, download the NSU Athletics mobile app via the Apple App Store or Google Play, or follow @NSUDemonsVB on Twitter for the latest information.
Photo credit: Chris Reich, NSU Photographic Services