NACOGDOCHES, Texas (9/16/08) The Utah Valley Invitational left the Mean Green volleyball team with a bad taste in its mouth. North Texas will now try to cleanse its palate with an old Southland Conference foe, Stephen F. Austin, tonight at 7 p.m.
Nacogdoches, home of SFA (4-3), was among the many areas of Texas that were affected by Hurricane Ike last weekend. The area faced extremely high winds and rain, and much of the city is still without power. The campus of Stephen F. Austin was spared much of the damage, and the match is still on schedule for Tuesday night in the William R. Johnson Coliseum.
The Mean Green has a rich history with Stephen F. Austin, but hasn’t beaten the Lady Jacks since 1995, the last year North Texas and SFA were Southland Conference rivals. Stephen F. Austin took the 1994 Southland title and North Texas won in 1995 before heading to the Big West Conference.
At 1-7 in 2008, the Mean Green has now dropped six straight matches, which equals the longest losing streak of 2007. The longest losing streak under current head coach Cassie Headrick is 10, which spanned the final two matches of the 2004 season and the first eight outings of 2005. The Mean Green is hitting 14.9 percent with 47 more attack errors than its opponents over this six match span.
What To Watch For
Amy Huddleston became the third North Texas player this year to earn all-tournament honors with her accolades at the Utah Valley Invitational. The sophomore is expected to make her 30th career start versus Stephen F. Austin on Tuesday, and racked up 16 kills on .267 hitting and led the team with nine blocks on the weekend.
North Texas has the luxury of two quality setters in 2008, and that was no more evident than against Idaho State. Freshman Kayla Saey came off the bench and became just the fifth NT setter since 2003 to post a double-double. Saey racked up 40 assists and 11 digs in relieving Marelle Lepmets who leads NT with 214 assists this season.
North Texas hit a respectable .222 in the loss to Idaho State on Saturday, which usually spells a Mean Green victory. In its last 41 matches North Texas is 12-4 when its hits over .200, but that record falls to 1-24 when it fails to hit over that mark. Along the same lines, North Texas is 13-4 when it out-hits is opponent, but falls to 0-24 when its opponent has a higher hitting percentage since 2007.
North Texas has raised its hitting percentage in each of the last three matches. While its season attack percentage sits at .139, the Mean Green landed 22.2 percent of its attempts against Idaho State on Saturday.