Aces Help Mean Green Sweep Louisiana Tech
Ibarra Leads Team With Four Aces
DENTON - Henrianna Ibarra's four aces propelled the North Texas volleyball team to a 3-0 (25-23, 25-11, 25-15) victory over Louisiana Tech on Sunday afternoon. The Mean Green finished with eight service aces as a team.
"Serving starts everything in motion," North Texas head coach Andrew Palileo said. "Between Karley [York], Alex [Janak], Holly [Milam] and now Henrianna, we have four players that are serving at a pretty good rate. We're pretty excited about that. That really put us in a good position."
Janak and Ibarra applied the pressure from the service line with an ace each early in the first set as the Mean Green (16-2, 3-1 C-USA) and Lady Techsters (5-12, 0-3 C-USA) battled to a 5-5 deadlock. LA Tech reached its largest lead of six after back-to-back North Texas attack errors made it 22-16, but the Mean Green responded with a 9-1 run to close out the set. Ibarra's second ace pulled North Texas within one at 23-22, and Milam posted three consecutive kills to take the first frame.
"I just took my experiences from the past three years and kept talking to Alex," Milam said. "Our defense was getting balls up and putting me and Alex in a position to make those plays."
Following a sloppy first set, the Mean Green came out strong to start the second frame, jumping out to a 6-2 lead on another Ibarra ace and kills from four different players. Following a service ace by York, freshman Valerie Valerian posted back-to-back kills to extend North Texas' lead to 13-5 and force a Lady Techster timeout. After LA Tech cut the deficit to 16-9, the Mean Green answered with seven straight points, highlighted by four kills by Milam.
"After we came back in that first set, our energy just really shot up and we were in a rhythm with each other," Milam said.
The third set started similarly to the first frame as the schools battled to a 7-7 stalemate out of the gates. North Texas managed to open the gap with four straight points on York's second ace and a pair of kills for Valerian. Back-to-back blocks and a pair of kills by Milam helped the Mean Green take an 18-13 advantage and force the Lady Techsters to call a timeout, After LA Tech cut the deficit back to four, North Texas used a 6-1 run to set up match point, highlighted by two kills for Jordyn Williams. Ibarra's fourth and final ace sealed match point for the Mean Green.
"I knew I had to be more confident in the pressure moments instead of just saying `I have to keep it in,'" Ibarra said. "I had to go out with the mindset of "I need an ace.'"
North Texas concludes a four-game homestand against UAB at 7 p.m. Friday.
The Mean Green extended their home win-streak to eight games.
Ibarra's four-aces marked a career high for the freshman from San Antonio.
After posting a .226 attack percentage in the first set, North Texas hit at a combined .467 clip the rest of the way.
Milam set a single-game season high with 15 kills in the win.
Sunday marked the fifth match this season that the Mean Green have combined for at least eight aces.