HOUSTON – Northwestern State will have two things going for it on Thursday when it faces top-of-the-standings Houston Christian – a feeling of home while on the road.
The Lady Demons (13-9, 6-5) play the first of their final three road matches of the season on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. against HCU. The match will air on ESPN+ with live stat links available at http://www.nsudemons.com or on the NSU Athletics mobile app.
In the six Southland Conference matches prior to this week the Lady Demons have turned themselves into quite the formidable opponent. Four wins in their six matches, including four straight at one point, is tied for the most by any team since conference play began.
With the highly competitive nature of the Southland regular season, and six teams separated by one weekend’s worth of matches, the Lady Demons, with two pivotal road contests against two of the teams in the top half of the conference, have a prime chance sitting in front of them.
“With how well we’ve been playing on the road, generally speaking, we joked that even though these are going to be tough matches they are winnable matches and luckily, at least they’re on the road,” head coach Sean Kiracofe said. “HCU and Corpus have had their struggles this past weekend, so we’ll see what happens but certainly a big opportunity is in front of us.”
The Huskies are coming off a road trip where they fought through for a five-set win at Nicholls on Thursday before being swept by Southeastern. Saturday’s opponent Texas A&M-Corpus Christi lost a pair of four-set matches at Southeastern and New Orleans.
The home numbers for both teams tell a different story with just one conference loss combined between the two this season.
HCU is undefeated in five home conference matches this season and has just one loss in nine total matches overall this year. The home cooking that the Huskies have enjoyed thus far this year will be put to the test as the Demons have the potential to turn Sharp Gym into Prather Coliseum Southwest on Thursday.
With half of the NSU roster hailing from within the greater Houston area the contingent of Purple and White will be in full force as the Demons take the court in the critical rematch with the Huskies.
“We’re all really excited about it,” Katy, Texas native Jordan Gamble said. “I know there’s going to be a bigger crowd on our side with our families and friends there. We’re pumped up about it. I think we’ll get a lot of energy from them being there.”
Breanna Burrell (Kingwood), Laura Weatherford (The Woodlands), Piper Boydstun (Spring), Amina Attra (Missouri City), Reaghan Thompson (Kemah), Ashlyn Svoboda (Friendswood) and Gamble all grew up within an hour, depending on traffic, of the HCU campus.
La’Treva Kennedy and Riley Daniel grew up two hours outside of town in College Station, Texas.
The boost of energy the team will receive from the “home” fans will ideally get the Demons off to as strong a start as they saw in the Homecoming win against Lamar. In the first meeting with the Huskies, they weren’t able to hold on to a late lead in the opening set and saw HCU win the first two sets with late scoring runs.
“Both teams (HCU and Corpus) have made some adjustments to their roster since we saw,” Kiracofe said. “So, there’s going to be a little different personnel out there or in different positions but we’ve done the exact same thing.
“It’s about opportunities and getting on a roll but then if whatever we’re doing works they may make some substitutions and see some different people and we have to figure out exactly how we’re going to approach them. Both of us may show one thing to start the match and it may be completely different by the second set.”
Photo Credit: Chris Reich, NSU Photographic Services