Mean Green Fall To TCU In Five-Set Thriller
Historic 2017 Campaign Comes To Close
DENTON - North Texas' historic 2017 season came to a close in a thrilling 3-2 (26-24, 21-25, 25-23, 23-25, 10-15) loss to TCU on Friday night. The loss eliminated the Mean Green from the 2017 National Invitational Volleyball Championship.
"This season went by in a blink of an eye because we were having so much fun together," junior setter Karley York said. "It's hard to have a season come to an end when you love these people so much."
"We'll reflect on it once we get further away from the season," North Texas head coach Andrew Palileo said. "I'm disappointed in the loss, but on the other hand, I'm not because we set a lot of records and had a lot of firsts."
Senior outside hitter Alexis Wright led the team with 16 kills, and freshman outside hitter Valerie Valerian and senior middle blocker Holly Milam joined Wright in double-digits with 14 each. Milam tallied a team-high 16 digs. Wright posted eight of her 16 kills in sets four and five.
"I didn't really make a physical adjustment," Wright said. "I just wanted to be there for my team."
Senior middle blocker Amanda Chamberlain had the most kills (9) since Nov. 9 against Western Kentucky, and fellow senior middle blocker Mikali Myers saw action in Friday's match. With Wright and Milam leading the way in kills and digs, respectively, the seniors left it all on the court in their final match.
"I just wanted the seniors to go out on a good note," Palileo said. "I challenged them, because in a do-or-die situation, we have to rely on them. We needed them to step up."
The Mean Green (29-4) were doomed from the beginning of each set, trailing 4-1 in the first set, 9-4 in the second set, 6-2 in the third set, 7-3 in the fourth set, and 9-4 in the final set. However, North Texas managed to claw back in each set as the largest final score margin was five points in the final set.
"It's hard, especially in that fifth set, when you're only playing to 15," Wright said.
The momentum seemed to shift in the Mean Green's favor in the third set, closing out the frame on an 8-2 run, led by a pair of kills by Wright and a kill and ace for Valerian.
With a two-sets-to-one lead, North Texas committed half of their eight attack errors in the fourth set early on as TCU (14-16) took an 8-4 lead. Trailing 14-11, the Mean Green once again fought back with an 8-3 run to take a 19-17 lead. After a pair of Wright kills put match point in sight at 23-21, the Horned Frogs scored four straight points to take the set and a force a set five.
The 2017 team finished with the best attack percentage (.293), third-most block assists (398), fourth-most assists (1,671), fifth-most kills (1,801) and fifth-most total blocks (267.0) in school history.
The Mean Green's .193 team hit percentage is the third-lowest in a single-match this season.
Chamberlain cemented the best single-season (.436) and career (.364) attack percentages in school history and finished her career with the second-most block assists (302), fourth-most total blocks (372) and ninth-most block solos (70) in program history.
York's 55 assists marked the 11th 50-assist match of the season.
Milam leaves North Texas with the sixth-most career block assists (251) and 10th-most career total blocks (294).