DENTON (9/19/03) -- The North Texas volleyball team (8-6) began play in the Mean Green Classic Friday night by securing its third straight victory with a 3-0 (30-21, 30-24, 30-25) win over UTEP (5-7) at the Snake Pit.
Not only was the victory the Mean Green’s third straight, it was its third consecutive shutout as well. North Texas has blanked five opponents this season and dating back to last season, 14 of its last 21 victories have been by a 3-0 score. The Mean Green’s eight victories this season are the programs most through 14 matches since starting the 1995 season at 9-5.
The Mean Green hit .269 for the entire match, while holding the Miners to a .049 attack percentage. North Texas’ hitting percentage declined from .364 in the first game to .175 in the fourth, but it still posted a higher hitting percentage than UTEP in every game. The North Texas defense found itself in good position for most of the match, piling up 69 digs for an impressive 23 digs per game average.
"Our defense opened up our offense tonight," said North Texas head coach Cassie Headrick. "I thought we did a good job defensively and we gave them some problems in the middle of the court."
Sophomore middle blocker Brittney Gregory (Klein, Tex.) gave UTEP most of the problems, recording a match-high 18 kills and career-high .625 hitting percentage. Outside hitters Corina Marginas (Brasov, Romania) and Jill Ruskowski (Richmond, Tex.) also tallied double-figure kills with 16 and 14, respectively. Marginas finished with a double-double, piling up a season-high 24 digs to go along with her double-digit kill total.
Amber Clearman (Austin, Tex.) finished with a career-best 14 digs, while two other North Texas players finished with nine. Kristin Sheppard (Texarkana, Tex.) tallied a match-high 44 assists in the contest and narrowly missed a double-double with nine digs.
North Texas, searching for its first Mean Green Classic title, will face Oral Roberts and LSU tomorrow in the tournament’s final day of action. The Mean Green will play Oral Roberts at 1:30 p.m. and LSU at 7 p.m. The Mean Green Classic get’s back under way at 11 a.m. with a match between UTEP and LSU. Oral Roberts defeated LSU 3-1 in the tournament’s only other match on Friday.