NATCHITOCHES – The final week of the regular season begins on Thursday with a third most important match of the season in a row for Northwestern State.
“We knew that because of the way the conference schedule played out that we had an incredibly tough conference schedule as far as the teams that we play twice,” coach Sean Kiracfoe said. “We had a really hard opener and did fantastic through those first four matches and knew it was going to be tough here at the end. So, for three matches in a row we’ve been able to say that this is the most important match of the year and that’s the case again on Thursday.”
The Lady Demons (18-10, 10-4 SLC) lost back-to-back matches for the first time since early September and now find themselves in a three-way tie for the second seed in the conference tournament next week. Depending on how the next two matches play out for all the teams in contention for the second spot, NSU could land anywhere from second to fifth in the tournament bracket.
All the Lady Demons are concerned with is getting back the form they had during their school record tying eight match winning streak. Their first test of the week comes in the form of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (17-10, 10-4 SLC) team that has won nine of their last 10 matches. The only blemish since their loss to the Lady Demons during the second week of conference play was a five-set defeat at the hands of Stephen F. Austin a week ago.
“Corpus is on a roll of their own and playing really well,” Kiracofe said. “They’re giving a lot of different looks which is kind of unique for teams at this point in the season, especially if they’re on a win streak. It’s important and it is a battle to see if we can get back up into that argument for second or to maintain third. It’s a tough one and it comes down to competitive athletes that want that challenge.”
Thursday’s match is the penultimate home contest of the season. Free admission to the match is provided courtesy of the Louisiana Army National Guard. Live coverage is available through www.nsudemons.com.
In addition to the competition on the court, fans will be treated to a fashion show featuring the latest styles and trends courtesy of Lux Clothing and Accessories of Louisiana located on Keyser Street in Natchitoches. NSU representatives will model various styles and fans have the chance to win gift cards and more at the match.
Corpus brings a dynamic offense that is able to morph into different versions of itself almost at the drop of a hat. Senior Madison Green is the key component in the effectiveness of the attack.
Green is tied for the team lead with 240 kills while serving as their primary setter with over 800 assists this year. She and teammate Rachel Young both rank in the top 10 in the Southland Conference in hitting percentage this year. Corpus along with SFA and Central Arkansas are the only three teams with multiple players in the top 10.
“It comes down to us executing what we want to do,” Kiracofe said. “That’s what we did when we went down there and got that big win. We saw some of the different lineups we’ll likely see from them Thursday. But that was because of what we were doing, making them change and react. We were able to dictate what we wanted to do, and we’ll have to do that again this time.”
Photo Credit: Gary Hardaman