Volleyball Takes Down FAU, Advances To C-USA Semifinals
North Texas Avenges Regular Season Loss To Move To 20-12 In 2015
SAN ANTONIO - The Mean Green volleyball team fell to Florida Atlantic in a regular season showdown just two weeks ago, but it was North Texas that came out on top on a neutral court, defeating the Owls in Friday's Conference USA quarterfinal match, 3-1 (23-25, 25-17, 25-20, 25-20).
In what has become a trademark for the Mean Green of late, it was a spread out offensive attack that allowed North Texas to take the first-round win. In total, four players finished the night with double-figure kills.
"I thought tonight was an offensive game," head coach Andrew Palileo said. "If you look at the last several matches for us, we've been trying to be a lot more balanced. In our win over UTSA on Saturday, we definitely were balanced and we were only two kills away from having five players in double-digit kills tonight. That's really good and it's what we've been trying to do all year long."
Despite what may seem to be an easy win from a glance at the box score, the Owls had Mean Green fans nervous early on. North Texas took an 11-6 lead in the opening frame before Florida Atlantic stormed back to take the set, 25-23.
The Mean Green responded by winning the following three sets, largely due to the ability of the team's attackers to get rolling. Senior Carnae Dillard, the two-time conference player of the year, had 10 of her match-high 25 kills in the second set to spark the team's offensive efforts.
From there, it was a matter of dishing the ball to the open option, something that setter Amy Henard did very well in Friday's win. The junior tallied a season-high 60 assists as six players had multiple kills for North Texas on the day.
By the match's end, sophomores Alexis Wright and Holly Milam each finished with 10 kills on the night, while recording hitting percentages of .571 and .455, respectively. Meanwhile, freshman Hannah Shaw added 12 kills in her collegiate postseason debut to fall behind Dillard on the day.
North Texas had an impressive .386 hitting percentage overall, outhitting FAU's .217 mark. The Mean Green is now 18-0 this season when it has a better hitting day than its opponent.
Up Next for North Texas
The Mean Green advances to the C-USA semifinal round, where the team will be pitted against regular season champion Western Kentucky. The Hilltoppers are No. 21 in the nation, and they knocked North Texas out of the conference tournament in last year's semifinal round.
• North Texas moves to 3-0 all-time in the opening round of the Conference USA Championships.
• The team's .386 hitting percentage was its second-best mark of the season.
• With her first kill of the day, Dillard broke the program's record for kills in a single season. After tonight's match that record stands at 676, but the senior will surely add to that tomorrow versus WKU. Additionally, she registered her 6,000th career attack on Friday, a North Texas first.
• Dillard picked up her 24th double-double (25 kills, 13 digs) of the year, while Henard notched her 14th (60 assists, 11 digs).
Across the Tournament
• (2) UTSA def. (7) FIU, 3-1 (21-25, 25-22, 25-20, 25-19)
• (6) Southern Miss def. (3) Rice, 3-1 (17-25, 25-15, 25-18, 25-19)
• (1) No. 21 WKU def. (8) Marshall, 3-1 (25-22, 24-26, 25-14, 25-13)