From the first day of fall practice, Northwestern State volleyball has been in competition mode.
From a spirited 6-on-6 on the first day of practice to cooking competitions and lip-sync battles away from the net, the competition has been fierce but friendly.
While the friendly nature won’t change much, the intensity will go up a notch or two as the Lady Demons host their Purple/White scrimmage on Wednesday evening at 6 p.m. inside Prather Coliseum.
The scrimmage will be open to the public and the first real opportunity to see what amounts to an almost completely new Demon volleyball team.
NSU has six players returning from a year ago, with essentially all of them doing the majority of their work at the pins, save for setter Piper Boydstun. That opens the door for an entirely new rotation in the middle as well as a new libero.
The volleyball version of a Swiss army knife, Ashlyn Svoboda, will be NSU’s libero entering the season but the middle will be made up of a brand-new set of players, including a pair of junior transfers and two first-year freshmen. All of them will be facing their first “under the lights” moments for the Lady Demons on Wednesday.
A pair of College Station, Texas, natives Riley Daniel and La’Treva Kennedy both found their way to Natchitoches after stops at Portland State and Missouri State respectively. They bring the bulk of the experience to the middle for the Lady Demons but freshman Jordan Gamble and her 6-foot-3 frame are expected to see plenty of reps.
Another true freshman that could see time in the middle is Reaghan Thompson, but her athletic ability allows her the chance to see time on the pins as well.
Kiracofe-coached middles have produced nearly half of the top 20 all-time single-season best block totals in his seven years. The most recent being Jaylibeth Garcia-Rosa who averaged less than half a block per set in the COVID-shortened season to nearly a block per set a year ago and the eighth-best blocking season ever at NSU.
With all-conference players Symone Wesley and Breanna Burrell still patrolling the edges, answers in the form of offensive options, as well as steady and consistent defense, in the middle will be a focal point for Wednesday’s festivities.
Photo: Chris Reich, NSU Photographic Service