Demons host ULM in home opener

Northwestern State volleyball officially reopens fall home competition in Natchitoches on Tuesday with the first home match of the 2021 season.

The Lady Demons (1-2) take on in-state rival ULM (2-1) at 6:30 p.m. in Prather Coliseum. There is no charge for admission to all home volleyball matches this season, but fans are required to adhere to NSU’s clear bag policy. Live video and stat links are available at or on the NSU athletics mobile app, available in either the Apple or Google stores.

NSU enters the match after an impressive sweep of Alabama A&M where it dominated every statistical category and served as a solid bounce back from an 0-2 start on opening day.

The Lady Demons had seven more kills on 18 fewer swings in the three-set sweep than the three-set loss to Cal, although the number of errors were nearly equal. One of the other differences between the two results came from the service line as Alabama A&M were unable to handle to aggressive NSU serves. The Lady Demons had 11 aces in the win with only one against Cal.

“I really liked our consistency during the match,” head coach Sean Kiracofe said following Saturday’s win. “That isn’t always easy to have when you go from playing someone like Cal and then to a team that will give you a completely different look, style of play and tempo.

“I was really happy that we were able to make lineup changes and not have any drop in our level of play.”

Plenty of new faces made immediate impact on opening weekend as well, which was expected entering the weekend and the 2021 season.

Symone Wesley totaled 26 kills, most of which coming in pivotal moments like the fifth set against Tulane. Her efforts on the weekend earned her a spot on the all-tournament team. Freshman Kate Idrogo shined on Saturday with a team-leading eight kills, seven of which coming after NSU reached the 20-point mark to help secure the set wins and the match.

Six players finished the weekend with 10 or more kills led by Wesley’s 26 and Addison McDermott’s 20, another positive step for the spread attack the Lady Demons continue to develop early in the season.

The Warhawks are coming off a successful opening weekend in Beaumont, Texas with wins against Prairie View A&M and Lamar. Their only loss coming in five set to Oral Roberts to start the season.

Outside hitters Cali Assaley and Avery Cole led the Warhawk attack with better than 10.0 kills per match and 3.21 kills per set. The team hit less than .200 in each of the five set matches but were able to sneak out the win against Lamar by holding the Cardinals to a .168 effort. The 12 service aces in that match was a five-set program record that also contributed to the victory.

“This will be very similar to how we went into the Lafayette match not really knowing what to expect,” Kiracofe said. “They have a very new roster, and while we were able to watch video on them from this past weekend, they had 15 different people get playing time.

“We have a good idea what lineup we’ll see at the beginning of that match but the odds there will be changes and different looks is very high. Again, like Lafayette, we will need to make changes as needed and then be consistent with how we execute those changes.”

NSU has a nine-match win streak against ULM with the most recent success coming during the 2018 season when the team met in Cape Girardeau, Mo., and the Demons taking the 3-2 win. It was 2016 the last time the Warhawks played in Natchitoces, a 3-1 NSU victory.

“When you add in the in-state rivalry for the match that always adds a fun element,” Kiracofe said. “There is never a time where you play another team from Louisiana where things don’t get intense, so it should be a fun match to come watch.”

Photo: Gary Hardamon

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