NATCHITOCHES -- The Northwestern State volleyball team has made the Southland Conference Tournament in each of the last three seasons under Head Coach Sean Kiracofe.
According to the 2019 SLC preseason poll released Monday, the Lady Demons will be making it four in a row. NSU was picked seventh in the voting by the league coaches and sports information directors.
“We ended the 2018 season as the 7th seed and we were only a couple points away from beating a very good UCA team,” Kiracofe said, “so I have no problem starting out 2019 in the same spot. I could not be more comfortable saying I like our chances against any team this season.”
Northwestern State hosted the 2018 edition of the tournament at Prather Coliseum only to see the Lady Demons fall in the opening round in heartbreaking fashion to Central Arkansas in five sets. If the preseason poll holds true, NSU will see the Lady Bears, who were picked second in the poll, in the first round again this year. With the tournament in Arkansas this year, NSU could have a chance to return the favor and defeat the tournament host on their home floor.
The Lady Demons were only a handful of points from consecutive seasons being picked sixth, but Abilene Christian edged them out for that spot this year. Stephen F. Austin, Central Arkansas, Sam Houston State, Houston Baptist, and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi make up the top-five. SFA earned 19 first-place votes and were picked to repeat as SLC champions.
NSU returns four starters from last year including All-Southland outside hitter Hannah Brister who led the team in kills in 2018. The junior is joined by experienced seniors Alexis Warren, Megan Lohmiller, Cayman Sutton, and Kourtney Seaton.
Brister picked up a preseason Southland first-team honor last week and will begin the season as the primary offensive force on the team. A healthy Darria Williams provides balance on the offensive right side with plenty more game experience in the middle and back with Seaton, Brooke Wood and the crop of defensive specialists led by Lohmiller.
NSU opens the regular season at Arkansas on August 30 and Southland play on September 26 as they host Sam Houston State.
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