DENTON (8/25/06) - North Texas opens its fall season with volleyball and soccer matches this weekend. The Mean Green volleyball team starts the season at the Texas State Tournament today and Saturday, while the soccer team plays its season opener on Sunday against Texas State.
North Texas volleyball enters the 2006 season with high expectations, coming off a year in which the Mean Green doubled its win total from the previous season. North Texas was eliminated from the Sun Belt Conference Tournament last season in the first round but returns 12 letterwinners from a team that finished 8-6, good enough for second in the Sun Belt Western Division.
North Texas' opponents in the Texas State Tournament include host Texas State, Wyoming, UT-Pan American and USC, which was ranked No. 19 in last year’s final national poll. The Mean Green is a combined 3-3 versus its scheduled opponents under head coach Cassie Headrick.
Headrick has 80 career wins over the last six seasons and needs just three more victories to overtake Vickie Guy (82 wins from 1979-84) as the school’s all-time winningest coach. Headrick won her 80th match last season, moving her into a tie with Guy as the fastest coach in North Texas history to reach 80 wins. Donna Martin is currently second in all-time victories with 81. Headrick currently has the best winning percentage among that group.
The Mean Green soccer team also has high expectations coming into the 2006 season after winning conference championships the last two years. NT has 10 starters and 15 letterwinners back from last year's 16-win team. The Mean Green will be led by junior forward Heather Hutyra. She had a record-breaking 2005 season. Her 20 goals ranked sixth in school history while the 47 points she amassed are tied for fifth in school history. Hutyra was also one of just eight players in the nation to score 20 or more goals last season. Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year Kelli Lunsford returns after posting seven goals and seven assists in her freshman year. Junior Dani Slavonic returns to guide the North Texas midfield while all-conference goalkeeper Kandice Ellis is back after posting seven shutouts last year.
North Texas is 6-5 in its past 11 games to start the season. The Mean Green has won three of its past four season openers. A trend North Texas will be looking to reverse is its luck on the road to start a year. North Texas is just 1-5 when starting the year away from home.
North Texas has dominated the Bobcats over the years with a perfect mark of 6-0. The Mean Green defeated Texas State 3-0 last season in Denton. North Texas is 2-0 against the Bobcats in San Marcos, having won there in 2002 and 2000. The North Texas record against the Southland Conference throughout the years has been nothing short of near perfect. The Mean Green is 22-1 against teams from the Southland, with the only loss coming to Stephen F. Austin in 2003.
Click here to read this week's volleyball game notes
Click here to read this week's soccer game notes