Volleyball Season Ends In Semifinal Loss To No. 21 WKU
North Texas Finishes Season With 20-13 Record, Dillard Era Comes To End
Senior Carnae Dillard played in her final North Texas match on Saturday afternoon.
SAN ANTONIO — The North Texas volleyball team fell to league frontrunner and top seed No. 21 WKU in the Conference USA tournament’s semifinal round, ending the team’s season with a 20-13 overall record.
After battling for five sets with C-USA’s Goliath on October 18, the Mean Green couldn’t orchestrate a David-like victory on Saturday, as the league’s regular season champion swept North Texas on a neutral court (25-12, 25-21, 25-17).
With a chance to advance to Sunday’s championship final on the line, the Hilltoppers overpowered the Mean Green as North Texas just couldn’t get anything going on the afternoon.
“We were tentative today and I think that caused a lot of uncertainty and doubt in our minds,” head coach Andrew Palileo said after the team’s second-round exit. “That was the biggest disappointment. We just didn’t come out with confidence.
“We didn’t pass the ball well, and then when we didn’t pass the ball well we were tentative in our swings because the sets weren’t exactly where they should be,” Palileo continued. “So it was a combination of things. Anytime you start being tentative, the passing becomes tentative, the swings become tentative and it’s just a snowball effect.”
North Texas was outhit .355 to .105 as the Mean Green lacked the offensive balance that had allowed the squad to win each of its last four matches. Senior Carnae Dillard finished the night with 11 kills on 35 attacks in her last collegiate match for North Texas.
Conference second team selection Holly Milam was second on the team in kills with six, while sophomore Alexis Wright and freshman Hannah Shaw each had four. Junior Amy Henard ended the contest with 31 assists.
WKU’s ability to put together lengthy scoring streaks was particularly deflating for North Texas in the match. The Hilltoppers went on an 11-2 run in the first, 8-1 run in the second and 10-1 run in the third and final frame.
The loss brings a bitter end to the 2015 campaign and the stellar career of Dillard, who leaves North Texas as arguably the best player to ever suit up for the Mean Green volleyball team. Even so, the senior has a positive outlook on the career she has had in Denton.
“I got to play with such hard-working girls with so much passion,” Dillard said. “This year showed a lot for North Texas in that we’re a fighting team. People graduate all the time, but that doesn’t mean that’s the end of the team. They just have to keep pushing.”
The Hilltoppers will now take on the second-seeded Roadrunners of UTSA in the C-USA Volleyball Championship’s final round on Sunday.
• North Texas’s record in the all-time series against WKU now moves to 1-18. The Mean Green have now lost the last eight matchups, and the squad’s sole win over the Hilltoppers came in 2008.
• North Texas closes out the season with a .241 hitting percentage, the second-best mark in school history. The all-time record is .245, coming in the 1995 season.
• Sophomore Amanda Chamberlain rounded out the year hitting .312, which is good for the eight-best single season mark by an individual.
• The team picked up 20 wins in 2015, becoming one of only eight teams to do that in a single season. Two of those have come under head coach Andrew Palileo, whose team finished with a 22-10 record a year ago.
Around the Tournament
• (2) UTSA def. (6) Southern Miss, 3-0 (25-17, 25-16, 25-16)