Tough road schedule coming to an end for volleyball

The Nicholls State University women’s volleyball team opened the Southland Conference play on the road against Stephen F. Austin State University and Northwestern State University with consecutive straight-set losses.

The Colonels will head to Texas for the third straight week to face Sam Houston State University at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 1 followed by a matchup against Lamar University on Saturday Oct. 3 at 1 p.m.

“We expected to go out there, compete and play near the top of their abilities. If the girls do that, the results will take care of themselves,” head coach Tommy Harold said. “It is all about just staying on task, staying on the process and pushing forward.”

The Colonels (5-9, 0-2 SLC) led Northwestern State (3-2, 1-1 SLC) for most of the first set, but were defeated (3-0) Saturday afternoon. Nicholls held a 5-point advantage late in the first set, but were unable to contain the Lady Demons, who closed the set (29-2).

Northwestern kept the lead finishing with a 25-14 victory in the second set. The Lady Colonels fought back in the last set but came 3 points short to the Lady Demons (25-22).

“It was a disappointing weekend after Saturday. The team played well on Thursday.” Harold said. “On Saturday, we thought we had an opportunity but just didn’t play well.”

In the conference opener last Thursday night, the Lady Colonels fell (3-0) to the defending Southland Conference Champion SFA. Alternating leads with the Ladyjacks in Shelton Gym, Nicholls challenged their opponent, but were unable to hold them off. SFA led 25-16 in the opening set and faced a come back from the Colonels in the 2nd set, that came up 3 points short, falling 25-22. SFA closed the match in the third set with a 25-13 lead.

“This is not the start that we expected, but it is still early in the season,” outside hitter Kaci Eaton said. “I think that if we play consistently in the next two games and get to win, we have really good chances of making it to the tournament.”

The Colonels qualified for the SLC Tournament late in the 2014 season, exceeding the league expectations for the team. In the 2015 season, the Colonels started ranked 11 out of a 13-team league in SLC coaches’ poll and in the ninth position on the sports information directors’ poll. They ranked higher this season in comparison with both 2014 pre-season polls, in which Nicholls were ranked in the 12th position.

“We spent some time looking at film today and trying to figure out the areas where there is still confusion, to give the players an opportunity to ask questions and to really try to deepen their understanding on what we are asking them to do on film,” Harold said.

Last season, Nicholls’ overall record was 10-20, 05-3 home games, 1-11 on the road and 4-6 neutral. In conference games, the Colonels were 6-10, 5-3 at home and 1-7 on the road. So far, the Colonels hold an overall record of 5-9, 0-2 in conference and 5-7 non-conference games away for the 2015 season.

In the Southland Conference Team Leaders poll, Nicholls stands as third position in service aces, sixth in the opponent hitting percentage, seventh in digs, eighth position in hitting percentage, 10th in assists and in kills and last in blocks.

The Colonels also have four players ranked among the top 10 in the Conference Individual Leaders poll this season. The outside hitters Kayla Mashburn and Ana Niederhauser were ranked third and ninth in kills, and fifth and fourth in service aces respectively. The senior setter Alyse Barclay was ranked ninth in assists and the outside hitter Stephanie Tobison was ranked ninth in digs.