The 17-25, 19-25, 25-23, 25-23, 15-7 loss drops the Lady Demons to 20-11 overall and 12-7 against SLC opponents while the Ladyjacks improve to 22-11, 12-7.
“We are two very evenly matched teams,” said NSU co-head coach Hugh Hernesman. “Going into it we kind of felt like it would be a four or five-set match. Momentum is a crazy thing in this sport and once you lose it, it is tough to recapture.
“In the first two we served and passed very well and then SFA came around in the third and we weren’t quite as good.”
DiFrancesco recorded her 13th double-double of the year with 18 kills and 16 digs while also tacking on four blocks and three service aces.
“I think all of the girls get fired up but Stacey was fired up to play and she is one of our better competitors,” said Hernesman. “In a match like this I expect her to play well and I felt like she did that.
“There were a lot of times where we felt like we did not have a lot of room to swing and she found a way to get around it.”
Mackenzie Neely and Caiti O’Connell also landed double-figure kills with 14 and 13, respectively.
Emily Sweet registered her first double-double of the season, putting up 44 assists and collecting 13 digs. The sophomore setter also tacked on four blocks and one ace.
Keelie Arneson played tremendous defense for NSU, digging up 25 attacks and serving up two aces.
The Lady Demons were on fire in the first set as they ran out to a 9-0 lead. A kill by SFA’s Sabrina Burns finally got the Ladyjacks on the board but they did not maintain possession for long as NSU went up 10-1.
NSU continued to control the game, never trailing, as they won the first set 25-17.
SFA kept it close early in the second set until a DiFrancesco kill sparked a 3-0 run for the Lady Demons, putting the score at 10-6. The Ladyjacks were persistent, completing a 3-0 streak of their own and trimming the deficit to 16-14.
A kill by Johnson led to three more unanswered points for the NSU, increasing its’ advantage to 21-15. The Lady Demons stayed on pace, winning the set 25-19.
Trailing by two sets, SFA refocused in the third set to make it the most competitive game yet. NSU led through the first few points until an SFA block gave the Ladyjacks a 3-2 advantage.
The game went back and forth for several points before a Ladyjack kill sparked a 3-0 streak putting the score at 13-10. The Lady Demons fought back, coming within two points on several occasions, but could not regain their lead and dropped the set 25-23.
The fourth started out in SFA’s favor as the Ladyjacks came out to a 3-0 lead. An O’Connell kill led to a 5-0 run; giving NSU it’s first lead of the game at the 10-9 mark.
SFA quickly retaliated with a 4-0 streak of its’ own to put the score at 13-10. Both teams battled it out for the remainder of the game, tying it up six more times before the Ladyjacks took the set, 25-23.