Mean Green Off To Best Start In Program History
North Texas Wins Mean Green Classic Championship To Improve To 9-1
DENTON — North Texas swept Jackson State and took down Utah Valley in four en route to claiming the 2014 Mean Green Classic Championship Saturday night inside the North Texas Volleyball Center. The Mean Green improves to 9-1 through their first 10 matches, marking the best start in the program’s 38-year history.
“I didn’t expect it at this point,” head coach Andrew Palileo said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better start for us.”
After defeating Abilene Christian in four sets last night, North Texas had the opportunity to rest players and test their depth against an outmatched Jackson State squad in match one this morning. Even with youth on the court, the Mean Green was able to sweep JSU in three (27-25, 25-18, 25-16).
North Texas, enjoying the atmosphere of the home crowd, came out hot in the tournament championship match against Utah Valley. The Mean Green took set one 25-18 before dominating set two 25-13. Looking poised to sweep UVU in the tournament finale, North Texas allowed the Wolverines to fight off two championship points and reverse the set to drop it 25-27. In a shaky set four, UVU hung around long enough to keep the Mean Green nervous late in the set. It took a solid round of serving from sophomore Amy Henard and back-to-back kills from junior Carnae Dillard to put away the Wolverines in set four and claim the second championship of the season for North Texas.
“Our freshmen contributed quite a bit—and we’ve needed them to contribute—but I think it comes down to our returners from last year being more comfortable in our system, understanding what it is we like to do and having the confidence to play better in the system that we’re running,” Palileo added.
Dillard, the reigning back-to-back Conference USA Offensive Player of the Week, tallied an incredible 61 kills on a .392 hitting percentage in only 10 sets played throughout the duration of the Mean Green Classic. She also added 34 total digs to her stat line, which was more than good enough for all-tournament team honors.
Two freshmen stood out amongst the nine on the roster this weekend; Holly Milam and Amanda Chamberlain. Milam picked up seven total blocks, 14 digs and 20 kills in 11 sets played during the Mean Green Classic. Chamberlain’s tournament stat line included an eye-opening .538 hitting percentage with 23 kill and seven total blocks. Both freshmen were selected to the all-tournament team, marking Milam’s second consecutive tournament to pick up the honor.
On a night that North Texas made history with the program’s best start in its 38th season of play, an individual also rewrote the record book. Henard, the Mean Green’s primary setter, recorded 45 assists against UVU to move into the eighth spot on the North Texas all-time career assists list. After recording 87 assists in eight sets this weekend, she now totals 1,541 career assists.
The Mean Green will take their impressive resume on the road for their final tournament of the season in the Jayhawk Classic hosted by Kansas in Lawrence, KS on Sept. 19-20. North Texas will face their second ranked opponent of the season in #24 KU to open up the tournament Friday at noon. The match will be broadcast live on ESPN3 and can be viewed on WatchESPN.com or the WatchESPN app on mobile devices and tablets.