For the next three days Northwestern State will serve as the center of volleyball in the state of Louisiana.
Beginning with Thursday night’s Southland Conference opener between the Demons (2-7) and Southeastern (6-3), the second annual Battle for the Boot tournament, featuring five teams from across the Pelican State, will be held inside Prather Coliseum.
Just as they did a year ago in the first edition of the weekend, the Demons and Lions begin the festivities with a 7 p.m. contest that will be streamed live on ESPN+. Day passes are available for each one of the three-day long event at www.nsutickets.com.
“From a logistic standpoint having a tournament close to home on that fourth weekend before we go into conference play is great,” head coach Sean Kiracofe said. “But more importantly, volleyball is growing as a sport in high schools in northern Louisiana and the more that we can put our product in front of them, it’s beneficial for both sides.
“It gives those high school players something to look towards in terms of a little higher level of volleyball and something they can look towards being someday. And it gives teams like ours that fanbase to be able to draw from across different parts of the state.”
NSU begins the weekend with Southeastern on Thursday night and then hosts Louisiana Tech on Friday at 7 p.m. and ULM on Saturday at noon. A full schedule of matches is available at www.nsudemons.com/battlefortheboot.
This will be the first regular season volleyball tournament hosted by NSU since the 2011 season.
Following Tuesday’s home sweep of Grambling, the Demons have begun to build energy in their play on the court after a strenuous schedule leading up to this weekend.
Two straight wins against Texas Southern and Grambling, three straight matches with 10 or more team blocks and an overall growth in consistency on the court in multiple areas have set the Demons up for an encouraging weekend on their home floor.
“It was huge for us, especially getting it done with a sweep,” setter Piper Boydstun said after the win against Grambling. “We’ve had a really hard preseason and we’ve played some tough opponents, but I think it’s going to help us in the long run. I think we’re confident that we’re going to do well in front of our home crowd throughout the weekend.”
NSU has won five of its last seven home matches dating back to last season, with the only loss this year coming to UCLA on Aug. 28. The only other loss came in a conference match with Southeastern that NSU led 2-0 before the Lions reversed their fortune to steal a win 3-2 in Natchitoches.
“We built this week to be able to try and build a little bit of momentum going into this tournament and conference play,” Kiracofe said. “Southeastern is on a roll right and now and doing some amazing things so that’s going to be tough match for us. And the rest is just what we love about in-state tournaments. The rivalries between the schools and the opportunity to show off volleyball in the state as this tournament moves around from place to place.”
All three of NSU’s opponents this weekend enter having one their previous two matches in a row, just like the Demons.