NATCHITOCHES – It took several points for Northwestern State to settle into Thursday’s match with Grambling, but once it did there was little doubt as to the outcome.
The Lady Demons (2-0) cruised to a 3-0 (25-20, 25-9, 25-7) sweep in dominating fashion thanks to 17 aces and an impressive offense showing from freshman Breanna Burrell.
Coming off an impressive win against Louisiana Tech the chance of a potential hangover loomed for the Lady Demons early against Grambling. A match-high six attack errors made for a tightly contested opening set.
A 4-0 run midway through with a kill from Addison McDermott and an ace from Audrey Quesnel gave NSU some breathing room at 12-7. Grambling closed the gap to within one on a pair of occasions until a 7-1 NSU stretch put the Lady Demons in the driver’s seat.
Burrell and Quesnel drove the run contributing on six of the points and Burrell picking up three of her four first-set kills in the stretch, leading to the 25-20 set win.
“We were a little bit off and Grambling played fantastic there,” head coach Sean Kiracofe said. “They are really scrappy, moved their attacks around and did a lot of good things and we weren’t very quick to respond to it. We settled down enough to get that set and things started to go our way and we eased into it.”
The teams traded points early in the second until Burrell stepped in to serve and took over the match for the next six points. Three aces and a kill in the 7-0 run for the young outside hitter put the Lady Demons up 11-3 early with no stopping in sight. Burrell finished the second with five kills on six swings and three aces.
“I think we might have been a little complacent in the first set,” Burrell said. “I was just thinking about that and how I didn’t want that to happen again. I really just focused in on that and it worked out.”
Serves continued to keep Grambling off balance into the final set opening with an 11-0 run with Ragan Ward collecting five of her match-high six aces during the stretch. NSU totaled nine aces in the final set and sprinted to the 25-7 set and match win.
“They’ve got a lot of different options at the net and to be able to get them out of system with a good serve makes it so much easier for your block and your defense,” Kiracofe said. “Haley was serving to their libero and we trust her to hit the spot that I’m calling, and she was ruthless with it. Rags was getting the ball to move a lot as well with her serve and that’s really difficult thing for defenses to pass.”