Eakin Leads Volleyball Over UT San Antonio
Sophomore Middle Blocker Ties Career High With 17 Kills
DENTON - In a battle of Conference USA foes, the North Texas Volleyball team outlasted UT San Antonio, 3-1 (25-19, 22-25, 28-26, 25-20), on Friday evening. Sophomore Emma Eakin led the team and tied a career-high with 17 kills.
"You have to give UTSA a lot of credit," Mean Green head coach Andrew Palileo said. "It's a program that's won a lot. We didn't come out ready to go against a team that was prepared for us. We battled tonight, and they outhustled us on a lot of points."
North Texas jumped out to a 6-2 lead behind a pair of kills for Eakin, but surrendered a 7-1 run to the Roadrunners, led by two kills and a block by Brianna McCulloch. The schools went back and forth throughout the set as there were seven ties on the way to a 19-19 deadlock. Eakin led a six-point run to close out the set with a pair of kills to establish and seal set point for the Mean Green.
"I tried to come out with as much energy as I could, because that's what I've been struggling with," Eakin said. "With that energy came the desire to prove what I could do."
The battle continued into the second set as the teams drew even seven times en route to a 10-10 score. Senior Amanda Chamberlain did her part in keeping North Texas in the set with back-to-back blocks to take an 8-7 lead and a kill to make it 10-10. Trailing 16-15, Chamberlain posted kills on three straight plays to vault the Mean Green to an 18-16 advantage. McCulloch orchestrated an 8-1 UTSA run with three kills and a block to give the Roadrunners set point at 24-19. Eakin's 10th kill and back-to-back attack errors by UTSA pulled North Texas within two, but an Antonela Jularic kill gave the Roadrunners the set.
"UTSA's a school we battle with every year, so when they took that set, we had to buckle down," senior Alexis Wright said. "We have to respect them and know they're going to fight back."
Wright used that mindset to score the Mean Green's first two points of the third frame with her seventh kill and third block. However, similarly to the first two sets, the schools virtually went point-for-point until UTSA recorded three consecutive kills to take a 19-17 lead and force a North Texas timeout. Chamberlain emerged from the break with back-to-back kills. Senior Holly Milam's lone ace of the evening set up the Mean Green's third set point at 27-26, and a block by Chamberlain and junior Karley York gave North Texas 2-1 advantage.
"We realized we couldn't play catch-up with them all night," Eakin said. "We had to come out strong."
Eakin showed her desire to make the fourth set the last one with a pair of kills and a block to spark the Mean Green's 7-2 start. After giving up four straight points to the Roadrunners, Eakin posted back-to-back kills, followed by an Alex Janak ace to go ahead 10-6. Eakin and Chamberlain would combine their efforts with back-to-back blocks to extend North Texas's lead to 19-14. Chamberlain registered another block to put match point in sight, and back-to-back kills for York and Wright clinched the match for the Mean Green.
"We had to move Emma around a little bit to get that first block," Palileo said. "The block was crucial in that set, especially Amanda's solo block toward the end."
North Texas continues a four-game homestand against Louisiana Tech at 1 p.m. Sunday.
The loss in the second frame snapped the Mean Green's 19-set win streak on their home floor.
Janak set a career high with four aces in the win.
Six of North Texas's 11 kills in the final set were by Eakin.
York recorded her fourth double-double in the last five matches with 48 assists and 10 digs.
With five kills on Friday, Milam continued to climb the all-time kills list, passing Tara Hooser for 7th in school history (980).