JACKSON, Miss. - The North Texas volleyball team swept past its former Sun Belt Conference mate New Orleans, 3-0 (25-21, 25-15, 25-13), on Saturday afternoon to capture the Jackson State Invitational title, its first tournament championship since 2006.
A pair of juniors stole the show for NT, who is starting the year 3-0 for the first time since 2003. Setter Kayla Saey earned tournament MVP honors and Shelley Morton earned all-tournament honors.
"I thought it was a great team effort this weekend from everyone on the roster. I think the level of enthusiasm across the board was really impressive, and not just from those on the floor," said head coach Ken Murczek. "We are going to face some tough competition this year, and it's great that we started the season off on such a high note."
NT kept all three of its weekend opponents under .100 hitting, including .092 for the Privateers (0-3) who left the Sun Belt earlier this year. The Mean Green on the other hand, landed .254 against UNO and .255 for the weekend in bringing home the title.
Saey was spectacular as the Mean Green "quarterback", dishing out 91 assists on the weekend for an average of 9.10 per set, well above her career average of 8.80. Morton, a transfer from Fallbrook, Calif., was a wall on the NT back line with 18 digs and 11 kills.
As advertised, the Mean Green middle blockers paved the way in Murczek's new offensive setup this weekend. Melanie Boykins pounded home 25 total blocks (2.5 per set) on .417 hitting and Rachelle Wilson wasn't far behind with 23 (1.92 per set) while hitting .288.
The back line tandem of Sarah Willey and Kristin Petrasic notched 35 and 31 digs, respectively in the three matches.
North Texas returns to action at the Samford Invitational in Birmingham, Ala., next weekend. The Mean Green opens the tournament against Syracuse on Friday at 3 p.m.