NATCHITOCHES - After dropping the first set 25-10, Caiti O'Connell led the way in Northwestern State volleyball's 3-1 win over conference foe Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
The Lady Demons improve to 9-5 overall and 1-1 in conference play while the Islanders fall to 9-5, 2-1.
O'Connell's 13 kills were a game-high; she also chipped in two blocks.
"I thought Caiti really made a difference," said co-head coach Hugh Hernesman. "It is good to see her have that performance because she has struggled a little bit in the past few matches. This is Caiti's first year on the floor so we expect some ups and downs but we know she has a high ceiling."
Stacey DiFrancesco recorded her sixth double-double of the season with 11 kills and 11 digs. Her last three double-doubles were recorded in the last four matches.
Mackenzie Neely added on 10 kills and three service aces for NSU.
Sophomore libero Keelie Arneson controlled the defensive effort for Northwestern State, digging up 23 balls.
"Keelie was really good in the left-back tonight," said Hernesman. "AMCC was having a hard time killing it cross-court, they would have to kill it on the seam or on the line because Keelie is just so fast and her first step is so good.
"We were formulating our block to get the ball towards her more and I think that we were able to score in transition because of her defense."
AMCC crushed NSU in the first set, taking the lead at the 2-1 mark and maintaining it through the end. The Islanders won the set 25-10.
"After the first set we just kind of had to hit the reset button," said Hernesman. "We weren't executing the scouting report even though we spent a lot of time on it. Once we get into the heat of battle it is sometimes difficult to translate that into play."
The Lady Demons came back with a vengeance in the second set, taking the first point after a kill by Vanessa Coleman. An 8-1 run in the first half of the set gave NSU a 12-5 lead. Northwestern State kept their lead and won the set 25-12.
The third set was very competitive with nine ties and four lead changes. The Lady Demons took their final lead at the 15-14 mark after a kill by Glynna Johnson. NSU won the set 25-20.
In the fourth set, NSU began in a 0-4 slump. The Lady Demons fought back and grabbed the lead after a 7-0 run sparked by a kill from Emily Sweet. The Islanders trailed for the remainder of the set at Northwestern State won 25-19.
"Hopefully this weekend is more like the last three sets tonight," said Hernesman. "The Lamar match is going to be a dog fight. Over the last couple of years, they have really had our number but I think we are catching up to them and it will be a great challenge for us."
The Lady Demons go on the road for their next conference match against Lamar on Thursday.