July 31, 2013
DENTON, Texas -
In its inaugural season in Conference USA, North Texas volleyball is ranked fourth in the preseason poll out of 15 teams following its 26-12 final year in the Sun Belt.
The Mean Green received 175 points, 25 shy of first-place Rice, and three first-place votes.
“It is exciting to be considered one of the top teams in Conference USA,” head coach Andrew Palileo said. “I think it is a direct reflection of the hard work this group of players has put in over the last couple years.”
Only the aforementioned Rice (200 points, three first place votes), Tulsa (192 points, four first place votes) and state rival UTSA (192 points, two first place votes) ranked higher on the official poll.
North Texas ranked the highest of the former SBC schools that made the move to C-USA.
The Mean Green also saw two of its own make the 2013 Conference USA Preseason Volleyball Team as sophomore Carnae Dillard and senior Courtney Windham both received the honor.
“Courtney and Carnae being recognized as preseason all-conference selections show the respect they have earned from the coaches,” coach Palileo said. “We are anxious for the season to start and look forward to meeting and exceeding expectations for this team.”
Dillard, the reigning SBC Freshman of the Year, SBC First Team and SBC All-Tournament pick, enters her second year averaging 4.09 kills per set. She was the only player in Division I in 2012 to record more than 550 kills, 275 digs and 90 blocks. The San Antonio native’s 552 kills last season were good for second among freshmen in the nation and fourth in the NT record books.
She was also named National Freshman of the Year in the January issue of Cobra Magazine.
Windham, also a Sun Belt First Team and SBC All-Tournament selection, is averaging 3.11 kills per set and 1.28 blocks per set. She shattered the record for single-season assisted blocks with 132 and was third in NT history with 170 total blocks. The two C-USA preseason selections tied Rice and UTSA for most selections from a single team.
The Mean Green has won two SBC West Division titles in the past three years and is returning every starter except graduated setter May Allen, who will be replaced by one of the top incoming setters in the state, Amy Henard.