Lady Demons earn Homecoming win against Lamar

NATCHITOCES – A day of Homecoming festivities ended with a volleyball win for Northwestern State as it completed the season sweep of Lamar with a 3-1 (25-21, 25-17, 22-25, 25-21) victory on Saturday night.

“It kind of felt like we got our own game for Homecoming and we wanted to get a win so we could kind of like brag about it,” sophomore Breanna Burrell said after her match-best 17 kills helped bolster the Demon (13-9, 6-5) offense.

Burrell started fast in the first set with five kills on 11 error-free swings, serving as the catalyst for the strong start the Demons’ strong opening set. She sparked a string of four straight kills, including a pair from La’Treva Kennedy and another from Symone Wesley, late in the first set.

Lamar (8-14, 2-9) fought back to even the set at 19 but a pivotal block by Addison McDermott and Jordan Gamble gave the Demons the two-point edge it needed to finish the set on a 5-1 run and get the 25-21 win.

The Demons played one of their most well-rounded sets in the second, continuing to keep Lamar out of system with dynamic serves, setting the stage for a more predictable offense from the Cardinals.

Three blocks in each of the first two sets along with five aces and 26 kills accounted for the large majority of the NSU scoring, putting the Demons in the driver’s seat with the 2-0 match lead.

“We scored at a high percentage and earned those points,” head coach Sean Kiracofe said. “We weren’t just putting them in situations where they were going to give us errors and free points. They made some adjustments to control what they were doing and change where they were hitting and opened things up for them to win the third, but we were able to settle back down in the fourth to close it out.”

After seeing a near double-digit lead slip away in the third, a pair of early Burrell kills in the fourth brought the energy fully back to the NSU side of the net triggering the 8-2 opening run.

“Coach talked about before the game that we needed to come out and produce our own energy,” Burrell said. “I wanted to try and do that for the team and when we all have it, it’s really fun to play. That was the biggest part for us tonight.”

Like they did in the third, Lamar closed the large gap once again, pulling within a point at 13-12, but one Burrell’s six fourth-set kills stopped the run, which she followed with a combo block with Reaghan Thompson starting a 5-2 run and giving NSU the edge it needed.

Burrell finished with her third 17-kill match of the season, her second highest total during the 2022 campaign with one of her third most efficient attack percentages of the year at .289.

“It was a good bounce-back performance from her,” Kiracofe said of Burrell. “It wasn’t something where she needed to change anything about what she has been doing, things just weren’t going her way for a couple of matches.

“Even though we’ve had those players that have scored five kills per set I never want anyone to believe that they have to go out there and do that. She absolutely is capable of doing that but we’re in a position offensively that we don’t need that from anyone. She stayed the course and things opened up for her tonight.”

Wesley and Thompson both finished with nine kills in the match and Kennedy set a new season best with eight kills and a .300 attack percentage. Piper Boystun picked up her fourth double-double of the season with 23 assists and 11 digs. Ashlyn Svoboda led all players with 27 digs, the seventh 20-dig match of the season for the NSU libero.

Photo: Chris Reich, NSU Photographic Service