Lady Demons clinch tournament spot with win at Nicholls

Hannah Brister set a new career-best with 26 kills in NSU's 3-1 win at Nicholls. Photo Credit: Gary Hardamon

THIBODAUX, La. (NSU Sports Information) – For the second time under coach Sean Kiracofe Northwestern State volleyball has reached double-digit wins in Southland Conference play.

The Lady Demons (18-8, 10-2 SLC) worked hard for the win at Nicholls (10-13, 4-8 SLC), but the 3-1 (27-25, 27-25, 19-25, 25-17) victory was the 10thin SLC play this year and secured a spot in the conference tournament in three weeks.

Facing a much-improved Nicholls team in their home gym, the Lady Demons found themselves in a battle that lasted the entire afternoon.

The first two sets played out eerily similar to the Lady Demons trailing 23-21 late in each of the sets.

In the first, two Hannah Brister kills and a Nicholls error ushered a 3-0 run that put NSU in the driver’s seat to take the opener. At 25-25 moments later another Nicholls error put NSU ahead and Alexis Warren finished the exciting first with a kill to give the purple and white the lead.

The finish to the second set was much quicker as Nicholls committed four errors after taking the 23-21 advantage. Facing a set point at 24-22, the Lady Demons scored five of the next six points, four from Colonel errors, before Brister capped the second with her 15th kill of the set.

“I continue to be impressed with how composed we can be at the end of individual sets to be able to pull out wins,” Kiracofe said. “Everyone on the floor, and even as we make our subs, is dialed into what needs to happen when it matters the most.

“It really is impressive to watch. Nicholls did some really good things like they have been able to most of the conference season, and we may have given away a few more points than normal but we stepped up when needed.”

Taking the first two sets was a huge boost for the Lady Demons as Nicholls would respond in the third and be able to close out their late lead with a 6-1 run that pushed the match into four.

The extra set just gave the Lady Demons more time to diagnose the Nicholls attack and the evidence was clear in the fourth and final set.

After three straight Brister kills, NSU took a commanding 18-10 lead, not looking back from there. A 3-0 run ended the match with Kourtney Seaton giving NSU the win on her 13th kill of the match.

The Lady Demons owned the state of Louisiana in conference play this season, going a perfect 4-0 against their Pelican State foes. The win at Nicholls earned them their fourth straight trip to the conference tournament and 13th overall.

“It's always nice to see that CLINCHED post coming from the SLC account,” Kiracofe said. “This group has an eye on bigger goals. With that said, you have to get into the tournament before you can accomplish anything in it, so the team was excited to see that it was official.”

Midway through the third set Hannah Brister became the seventh player in NSU history to reach 400 kills in a season. She finished the day with 26, a new career-high, and sits just 27 away from setting a new season record for the Lady Demons.

Seaton tallied 10 kills for the sixth time this season and fifth in the last six matches. Setters Cayman Sutton and Skylar Besch recorded 20 assists each for the sixth time this season. Alexis Warren had her 11th kill-dig double-double of the season with 13 of each in the match.

The Lady Demons head to Huntsville, Texas next Thursday for a rematch with Sam Houston as they try and hold their second spot in the conference standings.

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