Offensive Weapons Guide North Texas To Senior Day Win
Four Players Earn Double-Digit Kills, Henard Adds Milestone Against Blue Raiders
DENTON - The Mean Green volleyball team picked up another win in its countdown to the Conference USA Tournament on Thursday, knocking off a visiting Middle Tennessee team in four sets on senior night (25-18, 25-14, 24-26, 26-24).
North Texas (18-12, 10-5) wasted no time in taking it to the Blue Raiders following a recognition ceremony for lone senior Carnae Dillard. The team used a .491 hitting percentage and nine blocks in the first two sets of play to take a quick 2-0 match lead.
“Before the match we talked about it being senior night and we wanted to be able to step up,” head coach Andrew Palileo said. “We wanted [Carnae] to enjoy her time playing and I think we were able to make that happen tonight.”
Dillard finished with a match-leading 21 kills and 10 digs in Thursday’s match, good for her 22nd double-double of the season. Freshman Hannah Shaw joined Dillard in the double-digit kills category by adding 13 of her own. They were followed by sophomores Holly Milam and Alexis Wright, who added 11 each.
Spreading the ball to different offensive playmakers was a goal for Palileo coming into the match, and it came with a challenge to Wright, who responded with a career-best .714 hitting mark on the day.
“Earlier in the week I challenged [Alexis] to be better,” Palileo said after the match. “She’s a playmaker and when she plays well our team looks good. She ended up having a monster game offensively and tonight showed what we can do when she does some things right.”
The player at the center of the balanced offense was junior setter Amy Henard, who had a match-leading 52 assists on Thursday. Coming in the third set, Henard’s 25th assist of the night moved her into fourth on the program’s career assists list.
The team now moves into a tie for third place in the league after Thursday’s win, sharing the spot with Rice. With one match to go in the regular season, it looks like Saturday’s action will be critical to the conference tournament landscape. A North Texas win and Rice loss on Sunday would give the Mean Green the No. 3 seed.
“We still have something to play for,” Palileo said when asked of his team’s current seeding. “UTSA is the match that we have in front of us and that’s what we’re going for.”
North Texas will face UTSA at 1 p.m. on Saturday. The Mean Green defeated the Roadrunners in their last visit to Denton, ending UTSA’s 22-match conference win streak.
• While she did not register a solo block, Milam broke a North Texas Volleyball Center record with her eight block assists.
• Dillard had only 46 attacks on the day, her lowest total for a four-set match all season.
• The team’s 15 total blocks was two shy of a venue record.
• For the first time this season, every person on the North Texas roster saw action in at least one set.