North Texas Stuns Western Kentucky In Five Sets
Mean Green Snap Lady Toppers' 38-Match C-USA Win Streak
DENTON - For the first time since 2008, the North Texas volleyball team was victorious over Western Kentucky with a 3-2 (15-25, 25-21, 25-19, 19-25, 15-13) win over the Lady Toppers on Thursday. The win puts the Mean Green in a position to clinch a share of the regular season Conference USA title with a win in Saturday's season finale.
"It's a great win for our kids. It was a great match between two really good teams," North Texas head coach Andrew Palileo said. "They did a great job of putting pressure on us late. It was a matter of a couple points that could've gone either way."
North Texas' seniors led the way as outside hitter Alexis Wright posted a team-high 18 kills and had five block assists. Fellow seniors Amanda Chamberlain and Holly Milam joined Wright in double digits with 14 kills and 12 kills, respectively.
"I just always get excited going against Western Kentucky's outsides, because they're the best in the conference," Wright said, "so I knew I had to step up and compete with the girl across the net."
Wright tallied six of the team's 12 kills in the decisive fifth set and five of the last six kills of the match. After a Taylor Dellinger kill gave the Lady Toppers an 11-10 lead, Wright posted three straight points to force a WKU timeout. Out of the break, the Lady Toppers managed to close the gap to one at 14-13, but Wright put them away with her 18th kill.
"We've asked her to handle the best players every match, and I'm super excited for her success tonight," Palileo said. "She executed a lot of what she's been working on lately."
"I was just trusting the process," Wright said. "We worked a lot on our game plan in practice, so I was just trying to focus and be present in each point."
The Mean Green fell behind 6-3 to open the match, but a Milam kill pulled North Texas within one at 11-10. The Lady Toppers closed the set on a 14-5 run in which the Mean Green committed seven of their 11 errors.
Junior middle blocker Jordyn Williams came off the bench to start the second set for North Texas, making an immediate impact with two kills and a block for the team's first points of the frame. Williams posted another crucial block to cap off a 4-0 run to regain the lead to 10-8. With the set tied at 18-18, Williams recorded her third kill and third and fourth block assists to put the Mean Green ahead, 22-19. Wright had a pair of kills down the stretch as North Texas tied the match at one set each.
"I knew I was equipped to do that, because every day in practice, we have that serious competition on both sides of the net, so I knew I could come in and make an impact," Williams said. "I'm so glad to have teammates that supported me."
The early goings of the third set played out similarly to the first two sets as WKU battled to a 9-6 lead before the Mean Green scored eight straight points, led by a kill and a block by Williams. Chamberlain posted three of her team-high five kills in the set to extend the North Texas lead to 21-15. Williams closed out the set with a pair of kills and her sixth block of the match.
"We run that lineup in practice all the time," Palileo said on Williams' performance off the bench. "It might seem new, but we work on it. Jordyn definitely did a good job for us."
After recording only one kill through the first two sets, Chamberlain had back-to-back five-kill sets in the third and fourth sets, recording the team's first three in set four to take a 6-5 lead. However, the Lady Toppers proved to be too much for the Mean Green, taking set four, 25-19 to force a decisive fifth set.
"Someone told me `you don't have to be fancy, just do what you do,' and I always write relax on my wrist," Chamberlain said. "I was just breathing through the plays and I knew that I know what I'm doing."
North Texas faces Middle Tennessee in the regular season finale at 11 a.m. Saturday. With a win, the Mean Green would clinch a share of the regular season C-USA title.
North Texas is now 2-19 all-time against Western Kentucky.
With 1,161 assists, Karley York has the seventh-most in a single season in program history.
Williams' eight kills and eight blocks are season-highs in both categories.
Milam passed Carly Collins for the seventh-most block assists in school history (237).
Chamberlain extended her double-digit kill streak to nine matches.