The Nicholls State University volleyball team closed out the Mercer Bears Classic with another powerful performance, securing the title of tournament champions behind a 3-1 victory over Georgia Southern on Saturday morning in Macon, Ga.

The Colonels surge out to a 3-0 record for the first time this century, with only the 1999 team (4-0) standing ahead of the curren Nicholls squad.

KEY STORYLINES AND STATISTICS

After falling in a tight first set 22-25, the Colonels battled back to knot the score in the second set before breaking the split with a key victory in an extended third set (31-29), leading to the eventual overall win.

Junior transfer OH Kate Hoerdemann shined as Nicholls' primary offensive weapon, notching a tournament-high 20 kills on the day with one assisted block and four digs.

Meanwhile, sophomores RS Katie Jones and OH Emily Gauthreaux posted positive numbers offensively, closing out the match with a combined 22 kills.

Gauthreaux also managed to lead the squad in service aces, picking up four total in the win.

Junior S Meghan Wozniak put together a team-high 45 assists along with nine digs and two service aces.

Defensively, senior L Emily Venable continued to dominate, collecting a team-best 16 digs.

"It was definitely a back-and-forth match, but we were locked in and hungry to win," Nicholls coach Kallie Noble said. "I felt that whoever won that fourth set was going to come away with the win, and we managed to execute when it mattered. After that first set, we felt that we had to make a change, and the shift we decided on really allowed Kate [Hoerdemann] to have a great match. We're excited to rise to the next level, and I know we haven't even gotten close to reaching our peak just yet. A big goal for me and my staff coming in was changing the culture, and based on what we're seeing now, this team has bought into our system and now we're just excited to see how competitive we can become."

UP NEXT

Nicholls returns to south Louisiana for the program's first Thibodaux-based tournament since 2011, hosting the 2019 Colonel Classic on Sept. 6-7 against Alcorn State.

NICHOLLS CROSS COUNTRY FARES WELL

The Nicholls cross country program generated a positive start to the 2019 campaign Friday evening at the UNO XC Opener, scoring a second-place overall finish for the women's squad and fourth in the men's side. The Colonels saw three of their women's runners -- Elsa Rijpstra, Augusta Marie Grønberg Christensen & Skyler Goodman -- rank in the event's top ten while freshman Olari Livingston managed to scored at 15th overall for the men, pacing the younger group on the course.

The performances by the freshmen trio of Rijpstra, Grønberg Christensen and Goodman seriously boosted the final numbers for Nicholls, racking up third, fifth and ninth, respectively, on the final leaderboard. Sophomore Lara Reifers, meanwhile, placed just outside the top ten at 12th overall with freshman Willow Johnson rounded out the scoring runners at 18th. Despite not factoring into the final scoring decision, a five-woman team composed of Sarah Glick, Myah Robichaux, Julia Garcia Verges, Eleana Callejas and Faith Keter slid in at ranks 20 through 24, outpacing Southland opponent New Orleans' fifth-best runner.

The final team scoring saw the women falter by just five points (47-to-42) to in-state rival Tulane while knocking off New Orleans (third), Louisiana-Lafayette (fourth) and Loyola-New Orleans (fifth).

"For our women, we're really excited to have three in the top ten," Colonels head cross country coach Stefanie Slekis said. "We were really close to beating out Tulane, but we were able to accomplish our goal of seeing our top ten in action. Purely the fact that ten of our runners finished ahead of New Orleans' No. 5 speaks to our depth, and that's going to be a huge strength for us as we prepare for the 6,000m over the course of the next couple weeks. Overall, the women exceeded expectations in terms of depth, and we know what we can do better in terms of not being as aggressive up front and conserving energy."

Meanwhile, the men's squad was anchored primarily by Livingston, who secured a 15th-place finish on the overall leaderboard, and sophomore Tyler Granger, who slid in just behind him at 18th. Feshman Preston Whisenhunt and sophomore Dustin Worley managed to capture 22nd and 23rd, respectively, while freshman Octavio Vasquez-Tilley closed out the scoring runners for the Colonels at 29th. Outside the Red & Gray scoring group, sophomore Cameron Carter along with freshmen Hunter Batt and Eric Brown also posted strong performances to open the season.

For team scoring, the Colonels put together an overall fourth-place finish, falling behind New Orleans (first), Tulane (second) and Loyola-New Orleans (third) while outpacing Louisiana-Lafayette.

"On the men's side, Olari [Livingston] ran aggressive early and he was able to finish top 15, so we were happy to see him hit his goal there," Slekis said. "In general, we were pleased with how everyone ran, but we've got lots of work ahead and all of them will get to race at Southern next week, which will be big for building our overall race experience."

UP NEXT

Nicholls makes ready for a quick turnaround as the squad shifts focus to the Southern Jaguars XC Invitational, set for Saturday in Baton Rouge.