Volleyball Dominates UTSA In Final Home Match
Seven Players Record Kills In Dillard's Last Contest From NTVBC
DENTON - Playing in front of a raucous crowd, North Texas volleyball knocked off UTSA, the conference’s No. 2 team, in straight sets on Saturday afternoon (25-23, 25-22, 25-14).
In a complete turnaround from the last meeting between the two squads in September, it was the Mean Green that earned a sweep after an efficient day on both sides of the net. Head coach Andrew Palileo credits at least part of that efficiency to the packed crowd of North Texas supporters.
“I thought the fans were great today,” Palileo said. “They really gave us a lift and you could tell there was a different feel in the gym. The girls were excited and we executed a lot better than we have at other points in the season.”
North Texas poured it on the Roadrunners offensively, as seven Mean Green players had at least one kill. Senior Carnae Dillard led the team with 10 kills on only 25 attacks in the final home match of her career. Both of those are season lows for the outside hitter, but they were a result of an effective offensive effort from the team as a whole.
Freshman Hannah Shaw and sophomore Alexis Wright continued to complement the Mean Green attack, as they finished with nine and seven kills, respectively. Overall, the home team hit .304 on the day while holding UTSA to a .092 attack percentage.
Defensively, North Texas put on another solid day at the net. Led by sophomore Holly Milam’s second straight match with eight blocks, the Mean Green sent back a total of 10 UTSA attempts. Wright was also active on defense, tallying four blocks of her own.
“I think it comes back to execution,” Palileo added. “That’s always the goal but when we don’t do a good job of it we tend to rely on Carnae. In these last few matches, Alexis, Holly and Hannah have been stepping up and that’s allowed us to find some success.”
As great as the win was, it didn’t do much to help the team in terms of seeding. North Texas entered the match tied with Rice for the three seed in the conference standings. A Rice win earlier in the day essentially clinched the three-seed for the Owls, as they hold a tiebreaker over the Mean Green.
North Texas will enter the C-USA tournament as the fourth seed, but that doesn’t seem to bother Palileo.
“We’ve been talking about having momentum going into the tournament and hopefully a win like this gives us the confidence that we can play with all the teams in this league,” Pallleo said. “We went to five twice with Rice, five with Western [Kentucky] and we won today against UTSA. Hopefully we have that in our mind more than anything else.”
With a three-match winning streak intact, North Texas will see if momentum is enough to continue its winning ways next weekend.
Up Next For North Texas
The Mean Green now takes its talents to San Antonio for the C-USA Volleyball Championships. As the No. 4 seed, North Texas will play the five seed - either Southern Miss or Florida Atlantic - on Friday, Nov. 20, at a time that is to be determined. The three-day tournament will culminate in a championship match that will take place on Sunday.
• Dillard was the only Mean Green player to earn a double-double on Saturday, her 23rd of the season.
• For the second straight year, North Texas finished out the regular season with an 11-5 conference record.
• Palileo has a 56-35 (61.5 percent) regular season record in his first three seasons at North Texas. That gives him the best regular season winning percentage through that span by any coach in team history.
• Defensive specialist McKenna Thornlow popped an out-of-play ball over the net in the third set to get her first kill of the season. It was the second kill of Thornlow’s career.