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Lady Demons look to give an encore in season opener at Arkansas Invitational
Aug 31, 2013 | 92 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Fourth year co-head coaches Hugh and Stephanie Hernesman and the Northwestern State volleyball team open the 2013 season on Friday at the Arkansas Invitational at eleven o’clock against the host Razorbacks, followed by matches against Missouri-Kansas City at 4:30 Friday afternoon and New Mexico at 4:00 on Saturday at Barnhill Arena.

The Lady Demons (0-0) will compete in the invitational for the second year in a row, facing the Razorbacks (0-0) once again. Arkansas came away with the 3-1 victory last season, but not without a fight.

NSU finished 2012 20-13 overall, 12-6 in the Southland Conference and cemented a third place regular season tie with Texas A&M-Corpus Christi to round out the season, noting it as the best in program history.

The Lady Demons also had a phenomenal year individually as four current players earned sports in the record books.

A league-best of four selections to the SLC preseason polls coined juniors Stacey DiFrancesco and Keelie Arneson as All-Southland first team honorees, along with Mackenzie Neely and Caiti O’Connell receiving second team accolades.

DiFrancesco earned first team All-SLC recognition after leading the team in kills and aces, while also recording 14 double-doubles. Her 385 kills are fifth in the NSU single-season ledger and her 1,244 attempts stand at second.

Arneson also earned first team All-SLC honors after finishing second in the conference in digs at 5.00 per set. The Tomball, Texas native broke the single-season digs record, collecting an astonishing 618, to surpass her own record of 539.

Dripping Springs, Texas, native Neely recorded 319 kills, 72 blocks and 35 service aces on the right side as O’Connell proved to be a force on the outside as well, finishing seventh in the league in kills per set (3.04) and second on the team in kills with 337.

UA was chosen to finish third in the SEC western division preseason poll behind LSU and Texas A&M as they return nine letterwinners, including two starters and a libero from a 2012 squad that finished at No. 32 in the NCAA RPI.

The Razorbacks earned a bid to the NCAA tournament, falling 3-2 in the first round to Wichita State for a 22-10 overall record, 13-7 in the SEC.

Against the Kangaroos (0-0), NSU holds a 1-2 all-time record, last meeting up with UMKC in 2006 when the Lady Demons came away with the 3-2 win in Springfield, Mo.

UMKC also returns nine letterwinners consisting of five starters and a libero after finishing 2012 17-13 overall, 9-7 in the Summit League for a fourth place finish.

It’s the first meeting with New Mexico (0-0) who compiled a 20-13 overall record in 2012 and received votes to finish top-five in the Mountain West this season.  The Lobos returns nine letterwinners, including five starters and a libero.

The Lady Demons continue with a string of road matches next weekend at the North Texas Invitational in Denton, Texas, and will make their home debut on Sept. 17 against Southern Mississippi at 7:00 at Prather Coliseum.

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