A true test of a team’s resilience is how they respond after disappointment or tough situations. Northwestern State volleyball has their test following their first loss in nine matches this past Saturday.
The Lady Demons (16-8, 8-2) take on a New Orleans team on Thursday that are locked in a battle for a Southland Conference tournament spot, as they look to maintain their level of play from the past several weeks.
“We’ve had a great run to this point and there’s no shame in who we lost to at all,” coach Sean Kiracofe said. “But there is always that risk of a hangover. There’s a risk of a hangover if we beat Stephen F. Austin. Turning around and not showing up for the next match.
“If you’re stuck there thinking about that match on Saturday and going into Thursday, you can be just a little bit sluggish. That’s our goal in this week of practice. Get back into it and work on a few specific things to focus on our next two opponents and get back on a roll again.”
Despite the loss to the Ladyjacks, NSU remains in prime position as one of the best teams in the SLC this season, holding their second spot in the rankings. If anything, the confidence of the team increased, knowing what they are capable of and how well they adjust and learn from previous matches.
“Obviously losing is frustrating,” Kiracofe said. “But to know that we can stand toe-to-toe with them and when we see them again, have that belief that we’re going to win. So that’s a great thing to take away from that match.
“There are some things on film where we can make some adjustments and defend some things better. We’ll have a different mindset going into another match with them, and an idea of how to stop some things that presented themselves in that third and fourth set.”
Another battle with SFA wouldn’t come until the conference tournament, and if the standings remain the same as they are now, the conference championship would be on the line.
The Lady Demons still have work to do to set up a rematch with SFA, starting with a New Orleans (11-14, 4-7 SLC) team that has seen some up and down matches all season but struggled of late.
UNO dropped a 3-0 decision at Southeastern Louisiana on Tuesday of this week, the second straight sweep, and fourth loss in a row. The Privateers remain in a close battle with Central Arkansas, and NSU’s opponent on Saturday, Nicholls for one of the last tournament spots with six matches remaining.
The loss on Tuesday puts more importance on Thursday’s match for UNO, if they have hopes of reaching the tournament.
“UNO was playing great in the first half of conference, but they’ve had some injuries that have affected them,” Kiracofe said. “On a night to night basis it’s kind of hard to tell who’s going to be coming back and what kind of team you’re going to be able to see. They’ve lost a few here lately they probably didn’t think they were going to lose just a few weeks ago.”
The Lady Demons look for the same consistency they had during their eight-match winning streak, to begin another winning streak on Thursday that will carry them into the conference tournament.