Denton (9/23/01) - The North Texas volleyball team (5-7, 1-1) couldn’t hang on to an early lead against New Mexico State (4-7, 1-1) Sunday afternoon at the Snake Pit, dropping a five-game match to the Aggies in Sun Belt Conference action.
The Mean Green controlled the first game, jumping out to an 8-0 lead before going on to a 30-19 victory. It posted a hitting percentage of .481 in the opening game, it’s best single-game percentage of the match. However, North Texas could only manage a .091 kill percentage in a 21-30 setback in the second game. After the intermission break, the Mean Green regrouped and won a 30-27 third-game decision. Yet it would be the Aggies who eventually took the match, sweeping the final two games by scores of 30-11 and 15-8, respectively.
"We came out strong and have been playing our best volleyball in game one," said North Texas head coach Cassie Headrick. "We have to stop the big swings and stay more focused."
UNT looked to be on its way to its second consecutive Sun Belt victory in the fifth game, opening up a 4-0 lead over New Mexico State. The lead quickly disappeared, however, as NMSU took a timeout and then rolled off four consecutive points to tie the game. The Aggies went on to take nine points to the Mean Green’s four over the remainder of the game.
"Give New Mexico State credit," said Headrick. "They didn’t lay down and die. They have two seniors that came up big and took it upon themselves not to get beat."
Sophomore Brieanne Fowler (Odessa, Tex.) led North Texas with a match-high 22 kills and recorded a double-double with 11 digs. Brandy Wilkins had a match-high 16 digs and Kristin Sheppard (So.; Texarkana, Tex.) had a team-high 39 assists.
In just her third match back from an ankle injury, junior Tanya Samples (Nocona, Tex.) registered double-figure kills (12) for the second consecutive match and had a team-best four blocks. "Tanya was huge this weekend," said Headrick. "She is a strong presence both hitting and blocking and she is a welcome edition back to this team."
After knocking off Denver, the preseason favorite to win the West Division of the Sun Belt Conference, on Friday, the Mean Green were looking to win back-to-back matches against the two teams picked to finish one and two in the West according to the preseason coaches poll. The match was UNT’s fourth consecutive five-game match and its eighth of the season.
North Texas will get a break from conference play on Wednesday, Sept. 26, hosting Prairie View A&M in a 7 p.m. match at the Snake Pit. The Mean Green resumes conference play on Friday at Western Kentucky.