Volleyball Defeats FIU, Clinches Spot At C-USA Championships
Dillard Posts 26 Kills, 13 Digs For 21st Double-Double of 2015
Junior Amy Henard had 51 assists in a four-set win over FIU on Sunday. (Photo by Rick Yeatts)
MIAMI - The North Texas volleyball team dropped a closely-contested first set but came back to win three straight as the Mean Green clinched a berth to the conference tournament in a 3-1 win over FIU on Sunday (23-25, 25-23, 25-15, 25-23).
Three of the matches four sets ended by a score of 25-23 in what was ultimately a battle of which team would respond in the big moments. On Sunday, that team was the Mean Green.
North Texas (17-12, 9-5) used big runs at the end of sets two and three to gain an advantage and keep it in the four-set contest. In the second, down 21-16, they capitalized on six FIU errors and went on a 9-2 run to take the frame. Set three was more of the same in the period’s closing moments, as the Panthers added seven errors to spark a 10-2 North Texas scoring run.
“I thought we played well as a team today,” head coach Andrew Palileo said. “Even when we lost that first set I thought we were engaged and that’s what helped us pull it out. We played some of the bigger points a lot better than FIU did today.”
The Mean Green had been experimenting with its lineup over the last two weeks, but the team went with what it knew against FIU. Amy Henard had a match-high 51 assists as she played the entire match at setter, running the show for an efficient North Texas offense.
Senior Carnae Dillard picked up her 21st double-double of the season against the Golden Panthers with a match-leading 26 kills and 13 digs. She also had three of the team’s 10 total blocks. Meanwhile, sophomore Holly Milam also came through for the offense, putting down 14 kills on .440 hitting, going along with 13 digs.
Freshman Hannah Shaw played a key role as well. While she only had six kills in the match, her four solo blocks was a team high as she had perhaps her best defensive effort of the season. Additonally, her solid play at outside hitter allowed the coaching staff to make alterations at other positions.
“Hannah did a good job today,” Palileo added. “She got us some timely hits to get us back in the match. When Hannah can do that it allows us to make some changes, like putting Holly back in the middle of the court.”
With the Conference USA Championships in San Antonio quickly approaching, North Texas will have the chance to improve its postseason seeding in two matches on its home court this week.
Up Next for North Texas
Now done with its regular season road matches, the Mean Green’s next contest will be senior night for Dillard when North Texas takes on Middle Tennessee at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 12, from Denton.
• Solid defense was a key ingredient to the Mean Green win. The team outnumbered FIU in total digs, 57-50, although the Golden Panthers actually had the edge in attacks, 148-134.
• North Texas is currently tied with Rice for fourth place in the C-USA standings.
• Henard is 20 assists away from registering her third straight 1,000-assist season.