Coming off its winningest season in over decade, Mean Green volleyball returns a stable of senior talent, and sits poised to top the Sun Belt Conference.
The defending Sun Belt West Division Champions, North Texas racked up 23 wins last season, the most in the Headrick era and the most by a Mean Green squad since 1995.
Taking its offense to new heights, NT’s 5,150 attacks are the 2nd most in school history, behind only the 2003 squad, and the Mean Green’s 13.8 kills per game and 2,160 assists are the third highest tallies in program history.
Behind a revamped defensive presence, North Texas recorded the second most digs in school history 2,160 and the most blocks since 1988 286.5.
Head coach Cassie Headrick is at the forefront of the program’s resurgence. Now the all-time leader in North Texas victories with 103, Headrick is the first coach in Mean Green history to post two 20-plus win seasons, and her 82 victories in the last five years are the most since the 1977-81 seasons.
Ten of North Texas’ 17 all-conference selections have come in the Headrick era, including four First-Team All-Sun Belt bids and the program’s first All-American in Corina Marginas.
Covering every aspect of the game, Headrick’s last five teams each rank among the top-10 in school history in total attacks, kills, assists and digs.
The Mean Green weren’t too shabby on the serve last year either. Thanks to Brooke Engel, North Texas ranked 54th in the country with 1.91 aces per game 248 aces overall. Engel led the nation in total aces (123) and aces per game (.98), becoming the first NT player to ever top the country in any statistical category.
Engel’s 123 aces shattered the previous Mean Green record of 76, and made her one of only two players in the nation to land over 100 aces. Dominating the opposition with her serve, her next closest Sun Belt rival had 55 fewer aces, and the Mean Green won 67 percent of the individual games that Engel recorded an ace.
Jessica Hulsebosch emerged as arguably the best libero in school history in 2006. Hulsebosch broke the school’s match, season and career dig records all as a junior last year while ranking 58th in the country with 5.19 digs per game. One of only eight players in the nation to have two matches with at least 39 digs, Hulsebosch was named Collegiate Volleyball Update’s National Player of the Week for her effort at Sam Houston Tournament when she broke the school record for single-match digs three times in four matches.
Catherine Coffey marked the seventh straight year a North Texas player has been recognized on the All-Sun Belt squad when the middle blocker earned second-team honors. As only sophomore in 2006 Coffey racked up 151 total blocks the third best season in school history. The team’s most efficient offensive weapon, Coffey posted a team-high .299 attack percentage and had only three matches with a negative percentage.
2005 all-conference outside hitter Katy Prokof returns for her senior season after leading the team in kills in each of the last two years and attacks in the last three. Prokof has 60 double-digit kill matches under her belt and will be looked upon for a leadership presence in 2007.
The Mean Green welcomes five new additions to the roster LeAnn Herchman (5-6, DS, Southlake Carroll), Amy Huddleston (5-11, MB, New Braunfels High School), Kelsey Robins (5-4, L, McKinney North High School) and Brittani Youman (5-10, OH, Tatum High School) as well as transfer Krystle Everett (5-11, OH, Crandall, Texas) from Texas Woman’s University.
North Texas enters its second season in the 600-seat volleyball-specific Mean Green Volleyball Center. The state-of-the-art facility includes an office and locker room complex, which houses team meeting and locker rooms with built in audio/visual capabilities, staff offices and locker room, laundry facility, visitors and officials dressing rooms and an auxiliary training room.
The MGVC was showcased on CSTV during the 2006 Sun Belt Conference Championships, hosted by the Mean Green for the first time in school history.
This season’s schedule fires up a host of regional rivalries, as well as pits the Mean Green against some of the nation’s best. North Texas will take on nine of the nation’s top-100 RPI teams, including No. 18 Cal Poly, No. 43 Stephen F. Austin and No. 52 Wichita State.
North Texas will take on Long Island University at South Dakota State’s Jackrabbit Invitational in a matchup between last season’s national service ace leaders. NT’s Engel led the country with .98 aces per game, nudging out the Blackbirds’ Martina Wagner, who finished second in the nation with .97.
The Sun Belt Conference slate could prove the toughest yet, as five SBC school rank among the nation’s top 150. North Texas will look to defend its SBC Western Division crown with home matches against UALR, Arkansas State, Florida International, Florida Atlantic, Denver, UL-Lafayette, UL-Monroe and New Orleans.