Volleyball Claims First Postseason Victory Over Oral Roberts
Milam, Valerian Post 16 Kills
DENTON - A pair of 16-kill performances from senior Holly Milam and Valerie Valerian propelled North Texas volleyball to a 3-1 (25-17, 25-21, 23-25, 25-16) win over Oral Roberts on Thursday night. The win marked the first postseason victory in program history.
"We'll reflect on it later on, but right now, we're focusing on TCU," North Texas head coach Andrew Palileo said. "We're excited to get this first win out of the way. Hopefully, we can build off of what we did tonight."
Valerian recorded a double-double in the match, tallying 10 digs in the defensive-geared match. Junior setter Karley York also had a double-double with 45 assists and 10 digs. Freshman libero Henrianna Ibarra posted a team-high 13 digs.
"Our passing wasn't as crisp as I would want, it made the defense and blocking game more predictable with where our hitters were coming from," Palileo said. "Once we got the ball toward the net, we were able to score, so we just have to tighten that up."
Milam and Valerian combined for eight of the team's 11 kills in the first set, led by five for Valerian. Milam had two of her four block assists in the match to spark a 4-0 run that gave the Mean Green an 11-8 lead in the first set. Errors marred the Golden Eagles (15-14), committing seven straight that allowed North Texas (29-3) to extend its lead to 21-13. Milam posted two crucial kills down the stretch, including the set-winner.
"Holly and Val were consistent all night long," Palileo said. "They were able to score when it wasn't an optimal position. Anytime you can do that on a high-ball situation and you're still scoring, you know you're on for the night."
The second frame saw 10 ties and five lead changes, the last of which came on a kill by York to give the Mean Green a 19-18 lead. Valerian once again led the team in kills with six in the second set, including three of the team's last five kills. Milam once again provided the winning kill with her sixth of the match to give North Texas a two-sets-to-none lead.
The Mean Green struggled out of the intermission, allowing ORU to jump out to an 11-8 lead in the third set. A pair of kills and another block by Milam sparked a North Texas run that drew the game even at 15-15. Palileo called a timeout after the Golden Eagles went ahead 21-18, but despite the team's best efforts, ORU went on to claim the set.
The Golden Eagles got out to a 5-1 lead in the final set, but the Mean Green responded with a 16-3 streak, highlighted by a pair of kills and blocks for Milam. The rest of the North Texas squad carried the team to victory behind two quick kills from freshman Miranda Youmans after she entered the game, and kills by senior Alexis Wright and freshman Barbara Teakell to close out the match.
North Texas will face TCU in the second round of the NIVC at 7 p.m. Friday at the North Texas Volleyball Center.
Valerian has had a double-double in her last four matches, averaging 3.69 kills and 4.19 digs per set in those matches.
The Mean Green passed the 2015 squad for the eighth-most kills in a single-season (1,736).
Henrianna Ibarra has double-digit digs in four straight matches, averaging 17.5 per match in that span.
With 10 team blocks, the team ranks eighth in school history in single season total blocks (260).
Milam is just the sixth North Texas player to reach 250 career block assists.
Alex Janak now has 47 aces in 2017, tied for eighth-most in a season in program history.