GRAMBLING – Northwestern State showed fight and an abundance of resilience on Wednesday night to come back from a two-set deficit for a 3-2 (20-25, 21-25, 25-13, 25-23, 15-11) road win at Grambling.
Three of the five sets were decided by four points or less, including the pressure-packed fourth that allowed the Lady Demons to force the decisive final set. It was the fifth time under head coach Sean Kiracore that NSU performed a reverse sweep.
“Great road win that had to be earned in every way,” Kiracofe said. “A lot of credit to Grambling for working hard nonstop. To be good at anything you have to practice at it, but there is nothing you can do in practice to replicate a fifth set on someone else’s court. Being in that situation and coming out with a win is great experience for the rest of the season.”
The night didn’t start in NSU’s favor, falling behind by five in each of the first two sets before either team reached the 10-point mark. While the Lady Tigers were only marginally better offensively during those sets, the Lady Demons and their 18 combined errors led to disappointing 25-20 and 25-21 losses to the home team.
Down the stretch in both sets, NSU pulled within two points on multiple occasions only to see Grambling keep the arm-length lead in the final moments.
The Lady Demons were finally able to settle into an offensive rhythm in the third set, getting an early serving run from Piper Boydstun who would play a key role the rest of the match.
Her 7-0 serving run that included the first two of her match-leading 30 assists set NSU up for a monster third set and impressive comeback. Leading 13-6 later in the set the Demons engineered a 7-1 run that all but put the set away.
Boydstun spread the ball to three different attackers during the run and picked up a kill herself giving the Lady Demons life heading into the fourth set. NSU had four of its final five points of the set come on kills.
“Grambling was doing a good job of mixing in short serves which has bothered us so far this season,” Kiracofe said. “In the third we did a better job getting the ball to the net so we could run the offense we wanted. Addison coming in did a good job help stabilizing up in serve receive and defense. That allowed us to settle down and get back on track.”
A tight fourth set came down to the wire as teams traded points for the majority of the serves after a pair of Grambling kills tied the game at 14.
The Lady Demons made a late push ahead on kills from Symone Wesley and Breanna Burrell, the two match leaders in the category with 14 and 15 respectively, and a Grambling error that made it a 23-21 NSU advantage. Kate Idrogo slammed the 25th point home four serves later sending the duel into the final round.
NSU took a three-point lead on kills from Garcia-Rosa and Wesley, only to be answered by a 3-0 run to tie things at nine. The Lady Demons scored the next three points after a timeout to inch closer to the 15-point goal. Another Wesley kill moved NSU back up by three and with the final two points coming on Grambling service and attack errors.
Burrell matched a career high with her 15 kills and Wesley (14) and Idrogo (12) both set new career highs in kills. Idrogo also recorded the second double-double of the season for the Lady Demons with 12 digs, also a career high, and added a pair of block assists to her impressive score line. Haley Hoang earned her third 20-dig match of the season and seventh of her career.
NSU travels to Beaumont, Texas, for the Lamar Invitational beginning on Friday at 10 a.m. against Little Rock.