Milam Powers North Texas To Historic Comeback
Senior Sets Career Single-Match High With 23 Kills
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The North Texas volleyball time completed a historic comeback in a 3-2 (22-25, 22-25, 25-20, 25-20, 15-13) win over Charlotte on Sunday afternoon. It marked the first five-set victory for the Mean Green after dropping the first two sets since September 5, 2014.
"[Charlotte] is a great defensive team and they were doing a lot of good things in the beginning, but I think we adjusted well to come back," senior middle back Holly Milam said.
"It was a great character game for us, because we haven't been in that situation a lot this year," North Texas head coach Andrew Palileo said. "We showed some resolve and a steadiness that will help prepare us down the road."
Milam led North Texas with 23 kills, a career single-match high. She posted a team-high six kills in the decisive fifth set, including the Mean Green's last three kills. Milam added two assists, an ace, 16 digs and a pair of blocks for a crucial all-around performance. Fellow seniors Amanda Chamberlain and Alexis Wright joined Milam in double-digits with 18 and 13, respectively.
"It was a great match by Holly, especially when we asked her to move," Palileo said. "She was able to sustain pressure for us all along the net, which was why the blocking slowed down for Charlotte."
The first set was hard-fought from both sides with 15 ties en route to a 20-20 deadlock. The 49ers pulled away with three straight points, but Wright's team-high sixth kill in the opening frame pulled the Mean Green back within one. Back-to-back kills sealed the match for Charlotte, who became just the fourth opponent to take set one over North Texas.
After the Mean Green got out to an 8-7 lead in set two, the 49ers mounted a 10-3 run, led by a trio of blocks. By set's end, Charlotte had recorded 8.5 total blocks. North Texas attempted a late comeback with a five-point run to pull within two at 24-22, but a Tatyana Thomas kill gave the 49ers a two-set advantage.
"After the intermission, we knew we needed something a little different from the pins so we could free up the middles," Milam said. "I was trying to mix up my shots and bring a positive impact from the pin."
Looking to avoid their first three-set loss of the season, North Texas jumped out to an 8-3 lead behind four Milam kills. The Mean Green recorded eight kills on 11 attempts without an error for a .727 attack percentage to start the set. After Charlotte closed the lead to one, North Texas went ahead 20-14 on a 6-1 run, led by a kill and a block by Jordyn Williams. Chamberlain posted a pair of kills down the stretch to take the third set, and Williams finished the set with four kills and a block off the bench.
"We made a lineup adjustment with Holly going to the outside and [Williams] in the middle," Palileo said. "[Williams] was a starter for us last year, so we had full confidence that she would do what she is capable of."
The Mean Green used another quick start in the fourth set, starting with an 8-2 advantage as Chamberlain had a pair of blocks and a kill. North Texas would extend the lead to 14-5 behind a trio of kills by Milam. Following another Williams kill to establish set point, Charlotte scored five straight points, but a Janell Sparks service error put an end to the rally and tied the match at two sets each. Junior setter Karley York, who posted 67 assists in the match, finished the set with a pair of kills, six digs and a block.
"My defensive specialists and back-row people gave me multiple options and allowed our hitters to have more open shots," York said. "I wanted to do my job in all areas to put my team in the best position to win."
"Karley did a good job distributing the ball throughout the last two sets, which really put all the hitters in a good spot to hit seams and avoid the block," Milam said.
North Texas returns home to face Rice in a battle for second-place in Conference USA at 7 p.m. on Oct. 27.
With the victory, the Mean Green reached 20 wins in the fewest games in program history
After tallying 8.5 blocks in the first two sets, Charlotte was held to 3.5 blocks in the final three sets.
North Texas' 79 assists are the fourth-most in a single match in school history.
The Mean Green extended their win streak to eight matches and their conference win streak to seven matches.
North Texas' 86 digs are the most in a match since a five-set win over Florida Atlantic on Nov. 8, 2015.
York set a new single-match career high with 67 assists, which tied Kristin Sheppard for the ninth-most in a match in program history.