Northwestern State Outlasts ORU, 3-2
Northwestern State (8-9, 4-1 SLC) was victorious by scores of 25-17, 26-28, 20-25, 25-21 and 15-10.
Sara Pope matched a career high with 19 kills in the win, while Laura Taylor set a personal best with 56 assists. But the Golden Eagles hit just .190 as a team, including a -.030 mark in the decisive 5th set.
The Lady Demons were paced by freshman Ashley Elrod, who smacked 17 kills and added 14 digs for good measure. Stacey DiFrancesco chipped in 14 kills.
Defensively, Bruna Silva led all players with 31 digs, while Keelie Arneson paced the Demons with 22 digs.
ORU had a tough time getting rolling in the 1st set, falling behind, 7-2. The Golden Eagles fought back to even the match at 11-11 on a Northwestern State error, by the Lady Demons soon regained control. A combined block by Caiti O’Connell and Vanessa Coleman gave the visitors a 19-14 lead, and they clinched the set at 25-17 on a Glynna Johnson kill.
The 2nd set was much tougher, with both teams failing to capitalize on several set points. ORU was turned away at 24-23 by an O’Connell kill, but Pope killed off an NSU set point at 25-24. The junior again turned NSU away with a kill at 26-25, and finally ORU took the set, 28-26, on a Lady Demon error.
Nika Mostahinic and Jessica Pancratz alternated kills on the first four points of the 3rd set, building a 4-0 lead for the Golden Eagles. The Lady Demons came back to even the set at 16-all on consecutive DiFrancesco kills, but ORU steadied the ship. The Golden Eagles scored five of the set’s final six points, capped by a Mostahinic kill, to take a 25-20 win.
ORU was in prime position to end the match when a Luara Rosa kill evened the 4th set at 21-all and provided the home team with a shot of momentum. But the Lady Demons held tough and scored the final four points of the frame. Mackenzie Neely started the run with a kill and finished it with an ace, sending the match to a 5th set with a 25-21 win.
Northwestern State launched an 8-1 run midway through the final set to take an 11-5 lead. The outcome was never in doubt after that, with O’Connell blasting a kill on the second match point to give the visitors a match-ending 15-10 victory.
Despite the loss, several Golden Eagles had fine individual performances. Rosa smashed a career-best 15 kills, while Mostahinic had a career-high 13 kills to go with nine digs. On the defensive end, Kylie Johnson set a season-best with 19 digs, and Sthephanie Mab added a season-high 12 digs.
The Golden Eagles will try to get back in the win column on Saturday, October 12, when they face defending SLC champion Central Arkansas. First serve in Conway, Ark., is scheduled for 12 pm CT.