Kats Host NWSU, Enter Crucial Stretch

Last Saturday the Bearkat volleyball team suffered a heartbreaking five set loss at ACU. The Bearkats will have the opportunity to erase that memory right away, as they return home Thursday night to take on the Northwestern State Demons.

Last week was odd for the Bearkats, as six girls on the team were diagnosed with the flu, and three were not even feeling well enough to travel with the team to Abilene. The Kats are looking forward to getting things back to normal at home this week.  Thursday’s game will be the Bearkats’ first game at home in nearly three weeks.

Northwestern State will present a tough challenge for the Kats. The Demons currently hold a Southland Conference record of 6-3, which has them tied for third in the conference standings.  The Demons are led by star outside hitter freshman Alexis Warren.  Although just a freshman, Warren is the team’s leader in kills for the season with 274, and is averaging over three kills a set this season.  In addition, she is also second on the team in digs.

It is rare for a player to be among the team’s leaders in kills and digs; that just shows how good of an all-around player Warren is.

“She[Warren] is their go to player,” assistant coach Charlie Olson said. “When they want a kill they are going to set her up.”

Even more so than Warren, the Bearkats are preparing for the Demons multi-dimensional attack on offense. The Kats believe that the Demons offense is like looking in a mirror, as it resembles their own.

The Bearkats believe that they can exploit the Demons’ passing game, and that serving well will be the key to doing just that.

“They run a very varied offense, and we just need to exploit their weaknesses,” Olson said. “If we can exploit their passing game by serving well, then they won’t be able to run their offense.”

The Bearkats are still in the hunt for the conference tournament with an SLC record of 3-4, which currently has them in a four-way tie for seventh. The Kats hold tiebreakers over the other three teams, so if the season were to end today, they would be the seventh seed in the conference tournament.

These next few games could end up determining the fate of the Bearkats’ season. After Northwestern State, the Bearkats play at home against sixth place Central Arkansas, and then they travel to Houston Baptist to take on the fifth place Huskies, before turning right back around to play the Lamar Cardinals in Beaumont, who are also apart of the four way tie for seventh.  Faring well in the next four games could boost the Kats all the way to fifth in the standings, but faring poorly could knock the Kats out of the conference tournament race.

This is probably going to be the biggest stretch of the season for the Bearkats, and they know the importance of starting it out with a win. The game against the Demons will take place Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in the gym two of the Health and Kinesiology Center.

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