NSU Volleyball: Northwestern State begins five-match week with Jackson State

JACKSON, Miss. – Northwestern State spent this past week at home practicing on their home court. This week NSU makes a nearly 180 degree turn with five matches, all on the road, within the span of five days beginning on Tuesday.

The most intense portion of the schedule begins with the Lady Demons (3-3) taking on Jackson State (1-6) at 6 p.m. on Tuesday. Live stat and video links are available at http://www.nsudemons.com.

A week without a match meant a week spent working on shoring up some things that plagued the Lady Demons in the first two weeks of the season. Although head coach Sean Kiracofe felt like there were still some things that time didn’t allow for, the steps in the direction he wanted to go were certainly taken.

“I thought we were able to get some good work done,” he said. “We were able to get very specific in some aspects of the game. We felt like we’d struggled a little bit during those first two weekends. I do believe in our practices recently that we’ve shown some improvement on that, so I think we accomplished what we wanted to.”

The Lady Demons have just one day between Tuesday’s match with the Tigers and their Southland Conference opener on Thursday against one of the preseason favorites Southeastern. They’ll then begin the regular Friday/Saturday tournament weekend, also in Hammond, at SLU’s Battle for the Boot with meetings against three Louisiana schools not from the Southland (Louisiana Tech, ULM and Southern).

With short turnarounds between all matches, and four matches in three days at the end of the week, NSU will have to rely on the work done during the off week when the time to dive into the weeds of scouting upcoming opponents simply does not exist.

“Looking at it from a coaching lens you definitely can’t implement scouts the way you would normally want to, but the girls could be saying this is great, let’s just go out there and play,” Kiracofe said. “I would like to be able to be pretty detailed about the teams we’re going into but with a young group it’s a learning process to be able to absorb that kind of information. If you throw too much at them, it could be pointless.”

Breaking the stretch down into segments serves as the plan of attack for Kiracofe and the team. The first segment features one of the best teams in the SWAC across the past four years, and despite the nine-match winning streak against the Tigers, is a team that will require complete focus on NSU’s part.

“We played them in 2019. It was a great environment,” Kiracofe said. “It was hostile in a good way from the fans and a great atmosphere to play in and we had to earn that match.”

It took a 31-29 third set the last time NSU traveled to Mississippi to secure the sweep and a season ago the Tigers took a set from NSU in Natchitoches before losing in four.

Tuesday’s match serves as the third true road game of the season for the Lady Demons and another opportunity for the Lady Demons to gain comfort in enemy territory.

“That (the atmosphere) is exactly why I wanted to schedule them again,” Kiracofe said. “It’s a lot like what we talked about earlier this season at Tarleton State. It’s getting this group into those types of environments so when we see it in conference it’s not a shock.”