Volleyball's Win Streak Ends Against Southern Mississippi
Mean Green Fall in Five-Set Thriller
HATTIESBURG, Miss. – Alexis Wright’s team-high 19 kills and four blocks were not enough as the North Texas volleyball team dropped its Conference USA opener to Southern Mississippi, 3-2 (24-26, 27-25, 20-25, 25-23, 13-15). The back-and-forth match saw 21 ties and 10 lead changes.
”We put ourselves in a tough situation most of the night, but somehow found a way to give ourselves a chance to win in the end,” North Texas head coach Andrew Palileo said.
The Mean Green jumped out to an 8-4 lead, thanks to four Golden Eagle errors and a pair of kills for freshman outside hitter Barbara Teakell. The advantage was short-lived as Southern Miss worked the game to a 15-15 tie. The schools went back-and-forth throughout the rest of the set, resulting in five more even scores, before Alexis Coombs posted back-to-back kills to set up and seal set point.
With North Texas down 9-6 early in set two, Teakell, Wright and Amanda Chamberlain recorded three straight kills to knot it up at 9-9. Neither team went ahead by more than one point until a Coombs kill gave the Golden Eagles a 17-15 lead. Wright and Holly Milam combined for the Mean Green’s next five kills to bring the match to a 21-21 stalemate. Three straight Southern Miss points set up set point for the Golden Eagles, but Valerie Valerian contributed four of the team’s six points down the stretch to take the set. The freshman outside hitter recorded a kill and three blocks during the run.
The third set was the only set of the night without a tie score or a lead change as Southern Miss led the frame wire-to-wire. The Golden Eagles ran out to an 8-3 lead with six kills from four different players. North Texas would pull within two points on a few occasions, but could not find an answer for Southern Miss, who cruised to a 25-20 victory.
Wright helped the Mean Green out to a decent start in set four with a pair of kills and a block for three of the team’s first four points. However, the Golden Eagles would use a pair of 5-1 runs to take a 20-16 lead and force a North Texas timeout. The Mean Green finished the set on a 9-3 run, highlighted by a pair of kills for Wright and a pair of blocks by freshman middle-blocker Miranda Youmans.
After North Texas fell behind 10-7 in the final set, the Mean Green showed they had a little more fight in them with a 5-1 run to go ahead 12-11. Kylie Grandy recorded a kill and an ace as Southern Miss triumped for the final few points to take the match.
North Texas travels to South Beach to take on Florida International at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 24.
• Wright’s 19 kills and four blocks are both season-highs for the Arlington, Texas, native.
• The Mean Green had four players with double-digit kills for the third time this season and the first since Sept. 8 against Oregon State.
• Henrianna Ibarra and Valerian each set career highs in digs with 21 and 16, respectively.
• With a season-high 54 assists and 14 digs, York recorded her fourth double-double of the season.
• Friday’s loss marked the first match for North Texas that went to five sets.