On the heels of just the third triple-double in program history and a dominating finish to the fourth set, Northwestern State could not have asked for a better opening match performance after its long offseason.
The Lady Demons (1-0) look to keep the momentum going on Thursday as they host Grambling in their final tune up before the Southland Conference schedule begins next week.
First serve is set for 6:30 p.m. inside Prather Coliseum. Live streaming video will be available at http://www.nsudemons.com or on the NSU Athletics mobile app, a free download via the Apple or Google stores. There is no admission charge at NSU volleyball matches this season and fans are encouraged to wear masks and practice social distancing while inside the arena.
NSU cruised to a 2-0 lead before Louisiana Tech rallied to take the third and pushed early in the fourth keeping the match close. Sixth-year head coach Sean Kiracofe got the chance to see how his young team would react to a challenge in their first match of the season, and he could not have asked for a better response.
“It can be difficult to gauge where you team is when you are stuck only being able to play against yourself in practice during an offseason or preseason,” Kiracofe said. “Turn that into a year-long period and you really have no idea what to expect, so I was very proud and happy with how we showed up for the first match of the season.
“Being able to respond after Tech had a good third set and to come back to close out the match in the fourth is always good experience to gain early in the season.”
The win was accented by the debut of transfer Autumn Gentry who recorded the third triple-double in program history with 11 kills, 15 assists, and 12 digs along with a nine-kill performance from freshman Breanna Burrell.
A familiar face, senior Darria Williams, served as a closer in the match with six of her 11 kills coming in the fourth set, doing so on nine swings with no errors.
“So many new faces and so many new people standing next to each other it was great to see them settle down in those first two sets and control their errors,” Kiracofe said following the match with Louisiana Tech. “We started giving some points and balls to them in the third and let their size have an effect on us. To Tech’s credit they fought hard in the fourth, but we just settled down enough to be smart in situations and aggressive when we could be to be able to take the match.”
With just one more match to iron out any wrinkles, the Lady Demons turn the focus to Grambling (0-1) as a quick final preparation for league play.
“With all that build up to match number one, you have to try to avoid letting the pendulum swing back the other way and have a letdown for the second match,” Kiracofe said. “Grambling has only played one match just like we have, and had the good fortune to gain experience in a competitive five-set match.
“When they came down and played us here last year, they were able to keep both of the first two sets close right up to the end. With whom they have returning we are expecting it to be a good match for two teams still working their way into the season.”