Volleyball Holds Off Rice Behind Teakell's Career Day
Former Mean Green Star Carnae Dillard Honored Before Match
DENTON - Barbara Teakell's career-high 21 kills led North Texas to a 3-1 (25-19, 29-31, 25-19, 25-22) win over Rice on Friday night. Teakell was one of four players with double-digit digs, posting a single-match best 18.
"She's always had a great variety in her shots. It's natural for her," Mean Green head coach Andrew Palileo said. "She's been consistent at knowing when to try a different shot. I was more impressed with her digs, and that's what I complimented her on, because we weren't defending well tonight."
After falling behind 9-7 in the opening set, Teakell orchestrated a 5-0 run from the service line along with a pair of kills. The Owls (18-6, 8-2 C-USA) managed to draw the game even at 18-18, but North Texas (21-2, 8-1 C-USA) closed the set on a 6-1 run, highlighted by a trio of kills by fellow freshman outside hitter Valerie Valerian. Teakell and Valerian combined for 13 of North Texas' 15 kills in the opening frame. Senior Holly Milam recorded back-to-back aces to take set one.
"I knew we had to go out there and be aggressive. You can't hesitate in these big games," Valerian said. "Starting off, you have to have that go-after-it mindset."
The Mean Green got out to a hot start in set two, jumping out to a 10-6 lead behind back-to-back aces by freshman libero Henrianna Ibarra and a third ace from junior Alex Janak. The second set saw nine tied scores before North Texas had Rice in a hole at 24-23 with a chance at taking a two-set lead. Despite a pair of kills by Teakell, the Mean Green couldn't hold off a three-kill run that ended the set and tied the match at one set each.
"Neither team played to the best of their abilities, so it came down to who would sustain runs a little bit longer in each set," Palileo said. "[Rice] did a good job of staying in there in that second set."
North Texas once again got out to an early lead in the third frame as Valerian recorded three straight kills en route to a 10-5 advantage that forced a Rice timeout. Back-to-back kills by senior outside hitter Alexis Wright, who finished with 11 kills, extended the lead to 15-9 and forced the Owls to huddle up again. Teakell stepped up down the stretch, recording four of the team's last five kills, the last of which gave the Mean Green a two-sets-to-one lead.
"Trying to stray away from my strongest shot was hard, but you have to improve on some of the things you're not as good at," Teakell said.
Senior middle blocker Amanda Chamberlain posted three of her 11 kills in the opening plays of the final set, helping the team out to a 5-0 lead. After the Owls erased the early lead, North Texas rattled off a 6-1 run, thanks to three Rice errors. The teams virtually went back and forth until the Owls closed the Mean Green lead to 21-19 and forced a North Texas timeout. Teakell posted the team's last four kills to close out the match and reach her new career high.
"There was lots of energy. The team brought so much energy and everyone played amazing," Teakell said.
North Texas looks to avenge its only conference loss to Southern Miss at 1 p.m. Sunday.
Prior to the match, former Mean Green star Carnae Dillard was honored for her prestigious career.
With the victory, the Mean Green took sole possession of second place in the C-USA standings.
The Mean Green extended their program record home win streak to 10 matches.
North Texas nearly doubled their season digs/set number (14.9) in the second set with 29 digs.
Karley York became just the sixth Mean Green setter to compile 2,000 career assists (2,021).
Chamberlain has reached double-digit kills in five straight matches.
Janak has recorded at least one ace in all but four matches this season.