The Official Student News Media of Southeastern Louisiana University

The Lion's Roar

The Official Student News Media of Southeastern Louisiana University

The Lion's Roar

The Official Student News Media of Southeastern Louisiana University

The Lion's Roar

Lady Lions blow out UNO, Nicholls for a sweet 16th consecutive victory

Kennith Woods
The Lady Lions huddle together, ready to begin their match against Nicholls. (Oct. 26, 2023 – Hammond)

The SLU Lady Lions continue tearing the Southland Conference (SLC) to shreds, sweeping a pair of Louisiana nemeses in New Orleans (25-15, 25-13, 25-12) and Nicholls (25-12, 25-10, 25-11). The victories extended their win streak to an unprecedented 16 games. 

If the lengthy win streak doesn’t adequately convey the Lady Lions’ dominance over their competition, then consider this: in their sweeps against UNO (3-11, SLC) and Nicholls (1-13, SLC), they won each set by an average margin of about 12.83 points. In each game, they broke the 20-point barrier before their opponent crossed into double digits. 

They don’t just win games; they pummel their competition in the process. 

In the UNO match on Tuesday, Oct. 24, senior middle hitter Jacqueline Arrington and junior opposite hitter Rachel Hartmann recorded 11 kills each, while junior setter Gracie Duplechein chipped in 35 assists, leading the Lady Lions to a comfortable victory in the Big Easy. 

In the second set, a 7-1 SLU run put them ahead 21-8, their first of multiple instances where they broke the 20-point barrier before their opponent crossed into double digits. 

Their match against Nicholls on Thursday, Oct. 26 proved to be an even more brutal affair. Prior to the game, the Colonels were 1-11 in SLC play. The Lady Lions previously swept them in Thibodaux on Sept. 28 to capture their seventh straight win. Nearly a month later, The Green and Gold sent them packing back to Thibodaux, taking care of business in just over an hour of play. 

The match began interestingly enough, though. In an affair between two teams occupying polar opposite ends of the SLC standings, the dreadful Colonels landed the first blow against the defending conference champs. An ace from Nicholls freshman setter Soyler Berra put them ahead 5-2 in the first set.

The early deficit must’ve been a wake-up call for the Lady Lions as they responded to Nicholls’ hot start with a 20-4 run, capped off with an ace from senior outside hitter Kailin Newsome, her second of seven on the night. 

From then on, the rest of the game was pure Green and Gold domination. A kill from junior outside hitter Cicily Hidalgo sealed the first set for the Lady Lions and sent the Pride Roofing University Center into an uproar. 

Duplechein racked up eleven of her 31 total assists in the second set. The Lady Lions leaped to a 6-1 advantage to open the frame and eventually led 24-8 following another Newsome service ace. 

“I think we come out ready to win and ready to play. We have a lot of confidence and I think it boosts us up to play better,” Duplechein said about her team’s performance following the game. 

Nicholls, to their credit, expelled a last-second desperate gasp in the final set. After SLU took an 8-2 lead, the Colonels rattled off six straight points to tie the game. 

The bottom officially fell out from under the visiting squad after their run, however, as four consecutive Nicholls errors and a Newsome kill swung momentum back in the Lady Lions’ favor for good. They closed the set out on a 9-0 run, securing the sweep and their sixteenth-straight victory following another Nicholls error. 

The win was a masterclass in all-around team play for the SLC’s No. 1 seed. Newsome and Hidalgo recorded twelve and nine kills, respectively, while senior libero Ansley Tullis tallied twelve digs and Arrington locked down the net with five blocks.

Hidalgo discussed her team’s special season but acknowledged the team shouldn’t get caught up in running up conference wins at the expense of their camaraderie or the ultimate goal of winning the SLC tournament and securing a trip back to the NCAA tournament. 

“I think going out each day, having fun and playing with a group of girls we love really helps us get things done,” she said. 

In spite of his team’s stretch of dominance, Head Coach Jeremy White said his team could still “pay more attention to detail” on the court. 

“We’re playing at a really high level, but there’s little detailed things we could do a little bit better about. I think that’s the big thing we’re pushing right now,” White stated. 

The Lady Lions have just four more matches before the start of the 2023 SLC tournament, including three more games at home before traveling west to Lake Charles for the season finale against McNeese. 

SLU’s next game, a match against No. 2 seed Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (13-1, SLC), will be the team’s ultimate test this season. Both teams currently have the same conference record, though SLU swept them in Corpus Christi during their previous match on Sept. 23. SLU will look to repeat the result and take one step further to securing the tournament’s top seed. 

White said his team needs to take it “one game at a time” and keep themselves focused on securing the conference trophy. 

“We’ve got a big match against Corpus Christi that is going to be a big indicator of whether or not we can take this thing home in the regular season, and we all know that you don’t go to the NCAA tournament if you don’t win the conference tournament,” he said. 

White’s squad takes the floor against the Islanders at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 2 in the Pride Roofing University Center. 

Fans can watch the clash between SLC titans on ESPN+ or listen via KSLU Radio. Stay tuned to The Lion’s Roar and Lion Sports for more news on Lady Lions Volleyball.

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About the Contributor
Kennith Woods, News Editor
Kennith Woods is a sophomore communication major with a concentration in television and multimedia journalism and a creative writing minor. A resident of Prairieville, Kennith is The Lion’s Roar’s newly-minted news editor. His passion for progressive change within our communities is the driving factor behind his educational pursuits, as he wants to use journalism to facilitate vital information to the public and simultaneously serve as a mouthpiece for the people’s needs and concerns.
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