DENTON, Texas - It's time to unbuckle the Sun Belt for the Mean Green volleyball team. NT, led by first year head coach Ken Murczek, posted its best non-conference record since 2006, and has set its sights set on equaling the '06 squad's West Division title.
North Texas just missed its second tournament crown of the year when it fell to the hosting Mavericks in five sets at the UTA Hilton Invitational last weekend. Sarah Willey and Shelley Morton earned All-Tournament team honors as the Mean Green finishes the non-conference slate at 8-7, the program's best non-conference mark since 2006.
North Texas now focuses its attention on its Sun Belt opener against the Sunshine State duo of Florida Atlantic and FIU. The Mean Green is 5-5 in Sun Belt openers since joining the league in 2000.
The Owls of Florida Atlantic have dropped five of their last six matches, but will take on Florida Gulf Coast on Tuesday before facing NT. North Texas is 1-1 in Boca Raton, and won last year's meeting with the Owls 3-0 in Denton.
Perennial powerhouse FIU was receiving votes in the national top 25 poll in the opening weeks, but has stumbled through three losses to ranked opponents. The Golden Panthers have won all five of their five set matches this year, and are led by the reigning Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Week Angelina Colon.
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Best Non-Con Start Since 2006
North Texas wrapped up non-conference play last weekend by winning a pair of matches at the UTA Hilton Invitational and dropping a five-set thriller to the hosting Mavericks. The Mean Green enters Sun Belt play at 8-7, which is the program's best non-league record since 2006 when NT won the SBC West Division for the first time.
More All-Tourney Honors
Sarah Willey and Shelley Morton were named to the UTA Hilton Invitational All-Tournament team after stellar weekends. Willey led the Mean Green back line efforts with a team-high 66 digs, which works out to 4.12 per set. Morton ranked second on the team with 44 kills, fourth in digs with 38 and fifth in blocks with five. Willey was the Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Week back on Sept. 6, and Morton also earned Jackson State Invite All-Tournament team honors in the year's opening weekend.
Five Set Blues
North Texas continues to struggle in five-set matches, dropping two more this week to Stephen F. Austin and UT Arlington. The Mean Green is now 0-5 this year in five set matches, but has yet to be swept 3-0 in a match.
100-Dig Outings Continue
In its last five matches, North Texas has put together a pair of 100-plus dig outings. The Mean Green tallied 104 digs in five sets against UTSA - which ranks sixth in school history - and 102 digs in five sets against UT Arlington - which ties for seventh in school history.
Willey On The Way
Sarah Willey is only 44 digs shy of becoming just the fourth player in school history to notch 1,000 career digs. The junior tallied 66 last week in 20 sets, and now has 966 career digs.