NATCHITOCHES – Stacey DiFrancesco and Caiti O'Connell set the pace for the Northwestern State volleyball team as it took down Stephen F. Austin 3-0 for the first time ever on Friday evening's Senior Night in Prather Coliseum.
The 25-17, 26-24, 25-20 victory improves the Lady Demons' winning streak to seven straight matches, the most since 1992. NSU's record bumps up to 19-8 overall and 11-4 in Southland Conference play.
"Our pin hitters were key in tonight's match," said NSU co-head coach Hugh Hernesman. "I thought Stacey, Caiti and Mackenzie all did a tremendous job. Neither team passed particularly well but I think we were better in out of system play."
DiFrancesco recorded her 12th double-double of the season with a game-high 14 kills and 12 digs. O'Connell also landed double figure kills, collecting 12.
Keelie Arneson dug up 12 attacks for the NSU defense and Glynna Johnson put up five blocks.
"Glynna did a very good job in terms of knowing the scouting report and the players that we were going to pay particular attention to," said Hernesman. "As long as we know and execute the scouting report I think we are in good shape."
Lone senior Nicole Hajka served up an ace for the Lady Demons.
"We got a real nice lift and a good 2-3 point run in the second and third sets when Nicole came in as kind of a serving specialist," said Hernesman. "Nicole puts tough serves on our passers all season long in practice so it was a role that we thought would be good for her tonight.
"It was exciting to see her do a great job on senior night as well."
The first set started out very competitive with eight ties and six lead changes before the 11 point mark. An attack error by SFA's Jill Ivy sparked a 6-0 run for the Lady Demons, resulting in a 20-12 NSU advantage. The Ladyjacks could not regain momentum, falling 25-17.
Northwestern State came out hot in the second set, running out to an early 7-3 lead. SFA fought back, completing a 4-0 run and tying the game up at 9-9. The set remained competitive through the end until the Lady Demons closed it out at 26-24.
The third set was more of the same as both teams took a competitive start. The game went back and forth until an O'Connell kill sparked a 6-1 run for the Lady Demons as the score read 24-17. The Ladyjacks managed to pull it within four before DiFrancesco scored the match point and the Lady Demons won 25-20.
Northwestern State finishes out their home schedule on Tuesday as they face SLC leader Sam Houston State. The final home match is set for 7 p.m. in Prather Coliseum.