Volleyball heads to Conference Tournament

After a long and tiring season, the Northwestern State Lady Demons volleyball team successfully clinched a spot among the top eight teams in the Southland Conference, sending them straight to the conference tournament Nov. 17-19 in Corpus Christi, Texas.

“It’s been a great season overall,” Head Coach Sean Kiracofe said. “We hit the ground running and had a great match against Colorado in the first match of the year, and they’re [ranked] in the top 25 [of NCAA Division I volleyball].”

Junior middle blocker Madeline Drake agreed with Kiracofe.

“So far, we’ve had a really great season, [and] we’ve improved a lot over the past two seasons,” she said. “We’re still a pretty young team, but we have a lot of potential.”

The team has showed growth through several different aspects of play including their depth.

“This year, we have a strong group of core starters,” Kiracofe said. “If something isn’t working out, there’s a lot we can do to make changes to attack another team and give them a different look, and that just provides us more options to win matches.”

The depth along with the experience of the team is something that will help the Lady Demons as they return to the conference tournament.

“We’re now up there in the top half of the conference. We can compete with anybody,” Kiracofe said. “We’ve had two number-one teams come in here, and we beat them. So I think that no matter who we match up with going into the tournament next week, we have a great chance getting past them. And once you’re in the second round, you’re one win away from the finals, and anything can happen.”

Drake is taking what she learned last year and applying it to her game this year, especially leading into the tournament.

“I learned that you can’t win with a single individual. It’s a team sport and you need everyone on the team and court to contribute so we can win together,” she said.

Freshman outside hitter Hannah Brister is anticipating her first conference tournament with excitement.

“It’s surreal,” she said. “It’s great knowing that I did something for the team to make it there, but everyone has a part in it.”

The Lady Demons reached the tournament through hard work and a couple of big wins against two-time defending champions Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Sam Houston State University.

“At the time, we were the only team to have swept [Texas A&M-Corpus Christi], so that was a big deal to win and to beat them in three sets,” Kiracofe said, also mentioning the “huge” Sam Houston win recently.

Drake agreed with her coach once again.

“The big wins felt great… It proved to everyone on the team that we can compete with the big teams.” she said.

The fifth-ranked Lady Demons will travel to Corpus Christi, Texas, for the Southland Conference Tournament kicking off Nov. 17 and concluding with the final round Nov. 19.

Samantha Maiette

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