North Texas Volleyball Starts Season With Win In Five-Set Thriller
Senior Carnae Dillard Comes Up Big In 100th Career Start
COLUMBIA, Mo. - You live and you die by momentum in sports. Luckily for the Mean Green, that momentum was on its side as it took down Winthrop in a five-set nailbiter to open the season (25-19, 25-23, 19-25, 23-25, 15-12).
In a match that included 27 ties and 10 lead changes, North Texas had just enough to finish the fight.
"I thought it was your typical first match of the year," said head coach Andrew Palileo. "It was really a matter of three- or four-point streaks that got us the win."
In usual fashion, it was lone senior Carnae Dillard that led the way for North Texas. Appearing in her 100th career start for the program, Dillard totaled a match-high 24 kills and chipped in 11 digs to grab her first double-double of the season.
But it was the captain's play in the pivotal fifth set that truly made the difference for North Texas. Dillard powered down two straight kills to take a 13-11 lead in the match's final frame. Winthrop responded with a kill of its own before a service error bumped the Mean Green lead to 14-12. With a single point to go, Dillard notched a solo block to seal the victory.
The win almost certainly wouldn't have happened if not for the efforts of junior Amy Henard and freshman Hannah Shaw. Henard tallied a match-leading 48 assists and six service aces on the day, both of which are tops through day one of the Tiger Invitational. For Shaw, the freshman added 15 kills and seven digs to complement the Mean Green attack in her first collegiate match.
"If [Hannah] didn't have that type of match we would've been in trouble," Palileo said. "Hopefully that is something that she can continue."
Up Next For The Mean Green
North Texas prepares for two matches in Saturday's final day of the Tiger Invitational. The Mean Green will take on NDSU at 10 a.m. before clashing with tournament host Mizzou at 6:30 p.m.
With the victory on Friday, Palileo picked up his 40th win as coach of the Mean Green. Coming in his 65th game, Palileo became the second-fastest skipper to reach the 40-win mark. Delores Copeland, the program's first head coach, hit 40 wins in 64 games.
Serving had been a key focus for the team throughout the offseason, and it showed on Friday. North Texas outnumbered Winthrop in service aces 12-3.