Back-To-Back Sweeps Lead Mean Green To Title

Sept. 6, 2014



SAN MARCOS — North Texas volleyball swept both Abilene Christian and Texas State in the final two matches of the Delta Zeta Classic Saturday, picking up its first outright tournament championship since 2012.

“We played for each other this weekend and that’s what I’m proud of most,” head coach Andrew Palileo said

North Texas, a team full of youth, seems to have clicked early and have been on a roll since their narrow defeat to No. 15 Missouri a week ago. The Mean Green, now 6-1 on the season, has won four straight matches including three 3-0 sweeps. Nine consecutive sets have been taken by North Texas.

In the first match on Saturday, the Mean Green came out slow likely due to the early 9:30 a.m. start time. Abilene Christian, who hadn’t won a set all season coming into the match, took advantage of the slow play and hung around. Senior Hanna Forst lead the way with six kills to eventually close out the first set 25-20. North Texas would take the next two sets with identical 25-19 scores to sweep ACU.

“We had a gutsy performance from Hanna, playing through an injury and our middles are getting better with each match,” Palileo added.

Junior Carnae Dillard, usually a high contributor to the offensive side of the ball for the Mean Green, went abnormally cold against the Wildcats. Luckily, Forst and freshman Holly Milam stepped up to fill the void. Forst finished the first match with 13 kills on a career-high 46 attacks, while Milam recorded a 11 kill, four block performance.

After going 2-0 in the first two matches of the Delta Zeta Classic, North Texas had extra motivation to knock off the host Texas State in the tournament finale on Saturday night. With a win, North Texas would take home championship hardware.

The Mean Green looked to be in trouble early, trailing 10-6 to the Bobcats in the first set.  After a North Texas timeout, the Mean Green rattled off eight out of the next 13 points to pull within one at 15-14. Dillard turned on the jets, with seven kills on a .500 attack percentage, to battle back and lead North Texas to a 25-23 set one win.

In set two, North Texas no longer looked like a team with nine freshmen on its roster. Instead, the Mean Green seemed to massively outmatch the 2013 Sun Belt Tournament Champion Texas State squad opposite them. Freshman McKenna Thornlow served seven straight at the beginning of set two, as North Texas opened with a dominant 6-0 lead. The Bobcats would fight back into the mix to pull within two at 22-20. However, the Mean Green would eventually close out the nail-biter 26-24 to take a 2-0 lead into the intermission.

With all the momentum on their side, North Texas rushed out to another early 5-0 lead in set three. Texas State would take the lead for the first time all set at 15-14, forcing Palileo to call a timeout to recollect his team. The Mean Green would close out the set 26-24 yet again, to take their second consecutive 3-0 victory.

Dillard finished with 24 kills on a .352 attacking percentage and 14 digs, her fifth double-double in six matches played. Forst and Milam turned out crucial performances as well in the match, recording 11 kills and 9 kills respectively. Milam also recorded five blocks. For their performances, Dillard and Milam were awarded Delta Zeta Classic all-tournament team honors.

North Texas (6-1) returns to action on Friday night at home with a rematch against ACU in the Mean Green Classic at 7 p.m. in the North Texas Volleyball Center.

2014 Delta Zeta Classic Champions
North Texas (3-0)

2014 Delta Zeta Classic All-Tournament Team




North Texas Mean Green