Mean Green Outlast Southern Mississippi Behind Blocks
North Texas Posts Season-High 16 Blocks
DENTON - The North Texas volleyball team avenged its only Conference USA loss against Southern Mississippi with a 3-2 (25-17, 22-25, 25-11, 23-25, 15-13) win over the Golden Eagles on Sunday afternoon. The Mean Green set a single-match season high with 16 blocks as a team, led by senior Amanda Chamberlain's four block solos and six block assists.
"[Blocking was very important today," Chamberlain said. "We worked on blocking a lot this week. Getting in the right spot, being patient and putting your hand in the right position."
Chamberlain was one of four North Texas (22-2, 9-1 C-USA) players with double-digit kills with 12. Freshman outside hitter Barbara Teakell led the Mean Green for the second team in as many matches with 17. Alexis Wright and Valerie Valerian contributed 13 and 11, respectively, including four each in the first set. All four registered a kill early on, as North Texas opened with an 8-3 advantage. Valerian's fourth kill of the frame extended the lead to 17-9, but Southern Miss (16-9, 6-3 C-USA) pulled within 20-15 on a 6-2 run. Wright had the team's final two kills to set up and clinch the first set.
"I was just working on my shots, throwing in a tip every now and then, and then hitting it as hard as I could," Teakell said. "I didn't want them to relax on anything I was hitting."
The blocking game erupted in the second set as Chamberlain recorded three blocks in a 6-2 run to knot it up at 10-10. The Golden Eagles answered with a 6-1 run, highlighted by three Catherine Repsher kills. Chamberlain halted the run with her fourth block of the set, sparking a five-point streak to tie it up once again. Teakell had three kills down the stretch as the team's virtually went back and forth, but Southern Miss pulled away in the end, winning the set on a North Texas service error.
"[In the intermission,] we talked about some system things like knowing where to be on defense," Chamberlain said, "and there was a lot of encouragement. Pali told us we can do this and we can win and hearing him say that means a lot and helps us know he believes in us."
Coming out of the break, the Mean Green jumped out to a 14-4 lead behind a trio of kills for Valerie Valerian. After Southern Miss trimmed the lead to 18-10, North Texas closed the set on a 7-1 run to take a two-sets-to-one lead. The Mean Green finished the set with 16 kills and zero errors on 22 attempts for a .727 attack percentage as a team.
"We just tried to focus on our side of the net," Chamberlain said. "We were trying to get the energy and momentum flowing."
Chamberlain opened the fourth set with a pair of kills and her eighth block of the match for North Texas' first three points, as the Mean Green got out to a 4-1 lead. However, the Golden Eagles would go on to take a 13-10 lead in the frame and force a North Texas timeout. After another block for Chamberlain highlighted a short run to pull the Mean Green within one, Southern Miss would go on to win the set, earning the final two points on North Texas mishaps.
"Anytime we go to a fifth set, my message is always to be aggressive. Don't hold back and trust that everyone will do their job," North Texas head coach Andrew Palileo said. "That fifth set is a sprint, and you only need a two or three point run to stay ahead."
The Mean Green had a pair of those three point runs to mount an 11-8 lead, but a pair of attack errors allowed the Golden Eagles to tie it up at 12-12. Wright posted a pair of blocks down the stretch, including the match-winning point.
North Texas embarks on the final road trip of the regular season to take on Marshall at 7 p.m. on Nov. 3.
The Mean Green extended their program record home win streak to 11 matches.
North Texas' 16 blocks topped the previous single-match high this season of 14.
Karley York became just the 11th Mean Green setter to compile 1,000 assists in a season (1,032).
Chamberlain extended her double-digit kill streak to six matches.
York has recorded a double-double in three straight matches with 53 assists and 14 digs Sunday.
Janak has recorded at least one ace in all but four matches this season.