NATCHITOCHES, La. - The Ladyjacks opened up strong and put four players in double figures in taking a 3-1 (25-12, 28-26, 20-25, 25-22) win over Northwestern State in the conference opener for SFA at Prather Coliseum.
The win was the 41st in a row since joining the Southland Conference for SFA (8-8, 1-0) over the Demons (8-6, 0-2).
Kelsey Owens led SFA with 17 kills on 39 swings (.231), while Melissa Miksch picked up her third double-double of the year with 10 kills and 10 digs. Allison Gideon fell just three digs shy of her first career triple-double, but still directed the Ladyjacks to a .245 attack percentage for the evening.
"We will take a win any way we can get it," head coach Debbie Humphreys said. "Any time we can get a road win in conference it is a good thing. We got some people back tonight in Ari (Daron) and Lo (Kuepker) and just getting them significant court time is a big thing for us, not only tonight but down the road."
Daron, making her 2010 debut after sitting out the beginning of the season with a wrist injury, found the floor with her very first swing and SFA had little trouble in disposing of the Demons, 25-12, in the first set. The Ladyjacks scored 14 of the set's first 18 points, and hit .515 in the frame, led by four kills apiece from Sabrina Burns, Owens and Gideon.
"We played a great first set," Humphreys said. "We were clicking on all cylinders out of the gate."
In the second, despite SFA taking the first three points early on, Northwestern seized control midway through the frame and never gave the lead back to the Ladyjacks until SFA mounted a late-set rally. The Demons held a match-point try at 24-21, but SFA got kills from Melissa Miksch and Kelsey Owens as part of a three-point run that tied the set at 24 apiece. The Ladyjacks then kept the momentum going and cashed in on its second set-point opportunity, getting a kill and an ace from Gideon to close it out.
The third set saw Northwestern State finally capitalize on the Ladyjacks' poor hitting, as SFA committed 10 attack errors and five service errors in a 25-20 Demon win. SFA had 15 kills in the set to just seven for Northwestern State, but the mishaps were too much for SFA to overcome as the Demons cut the lead in half at 2-1.
SFA got things under control early on in the fourth set, forcing the Demons to use their second timeout after an ace from Gideon pushed the score to 15-9. The lead ballooned as high as nine points at 19-10 before Northwestern tried to put together a rally to get back into the match, but they could only get as close as three points before Bottles slammed a kill off right block to kill the rally and give SFA a match-point try. It took the Ladyjacks four tries to close it out, but Gideon finally ended things with a kill to the far side of the court.
The Ladyjacks next travel to Conway, Ark., to take on the SLC's defending champion Central Arkansas Sugar Bears. First serve is set for 2:00 p.m. from the Prince Center.