Mean Green Drop Opening Matches in Jayhawk Classic
For the First Time All Season, North Texas Falls In Consecutive Matches
North Texas at Kansas BOX SCORE
ESPN BROADCAST FULL GAME REPLAY: North Texas at #24 Kansas
North Texas vs Arkansas BOX SCORE
LAWRENCE, KS--North Texas fell to #24 Kansas and Arkansas on Friday night, dropping to 9-3 after losing back-to-back matches for the first time this season.
The Mean Green, entering the tournament on the verge of cracking the AVCA Top 25 Poll after appearing on a ballot the last two weeks, failed to capitalize on an opportunity to prove something to voters this weekend. Facing their first true road test of the season outside of the state of Texas, North Texas came out flat in the first match of the day against tournament host No. 24 Kansas, which was broadcast live by ESPN3.
In the first set, Kansas stormed out to an early 4-0 lead before junior Carnae Dillard finally lit up the scoreboard for the North Texas side. A slow start provided a comfortable 21-14 cushion for the Jayhawks. After a timeout by head coach Andrew Palileo to break up the KU run, the Mean Green attempted to make a push to stay competitive late in the set drawing within four after driving home three consecutive points. The deficit would prove to large, however, as North Texas would drop set one 25-19.
For the second straight set, North Texas would spot Kansas a 4-0 lead before finally getting on the board. The Mean Green would never draw closer than 15-10, and eventually conceded a less competitive set two 25-17. One would think Kansas head coach Ray Bechard would be comfortable with a 2-0 lead at home heading into the intermission, however he warned his team not to ease up after seeing the Mean Green come back to beat Wichita State after falling behind 2-0 earlier this season. The comeback effort mounted by North Texas on Friday night in set three provided a short glimmer of hope. After trading points back and forth in an early battle, the Mean Green roared out to an 11-7 lead and the moment seemed all too familiar. However, a big run by KU buried any hope of a repeat performance as they rushed back out to a 22-14 lead. North Texas would fight to stay alive but ultimately conceded the set 25-19, falling to their second ranked opponent of the season. The 3-0 final tally, marked the first time the Mean Green have fallen victim to a sweep through 12 matches.
In the second match of the night, North Texas took on Arkansas, their second SEC opponent this year. After falling behind early, the Mean Green pushed the Razorbacks to the brink in set one, pulling within one at 21-20 before eventually letting it slip 25-20. After never leading in the first set, North Texas opened up the scoring in set two, running out to an early 10-6 lead behind six kills on .300 hitting from Dillard. The Mean Green would push their lead to 21-13 and never look back, taking their first set of the Jayhawk Classsic 25-18 over Arkansas. After a service ace by freshman Holly Milam to open set three with a 4-1 lead, North Texas looked like it might cruise to its first win of the weekend. However, seven of the next eight points would be scored by the Razorbacks to erase the lead. A late battle would ensue as the two teams traded points back and forth. Two straight errors on set point would keep the Mean Green alive, but Arkansas eventually closed out set three 25-22. A wild set four that saw eight ties and five lead changes kept the traveling Mean Green fans glued to their seats. North Texas failed to take advantage after knotting up the score at 22 all and allowed a 3-0 run by Arkansas to close out the set and the match, 3-1.
Despite the two losses, senior Hanna Forst came out playing hot in front of her hometown crowd. The Lenexa, KS-native recorded 25 kills on .381 hitting across the two matches Friday night, including a .417 attack percentage in the match against KU. Dillard finished the night leading the team with 38 kills and 20 digs. Filling in for a struggling Amy Henard, senior Cami Cherry recorded a career high 44 assists against Arkansas while freshman Holly Milam rounded out the day with seven total blocks.
North Texas (9-3) looks to break up their longest losing streak of the season and earn Coach Palileo's 300th overall career victory when they take on Cleveland State (6-6) tomorrow at 11:30 a.m. in the final match of the Jayhawk Classic. Follow the action with FREE live stats and on Twitter!