Denton (The Snake Pit) (10/12/01) - A game-one loss to Arkansas-Little Rock (5-8, 2-4) didn’t hinder the North Texas volleyball team’s (9-9, 4-3) pursuit for its third consecutive Sun Belt Conference victory as it stormed back to sweep the final three games from the Trojans on Friday night and push its overall record back to .500.
The Mean Green posted a hitting percentage of just .070 in the first game, but dropped the game by just two points at 28-30. North Texas stormed back to take a 21-8 lead at one point in the second game before going on to a 30-25 win. The third game was much like the second as North Texas jumped all over UALR, capturing a double-digit lead at one point and pulling out a 30-21 victory. The Mean Green had the momentum at that stage and the crowd behind them, but a tornado warning took the match into a 25-minute stall and UALR regrouped to start the fourth game with a 10-2 lead. The Mean Green would not be denied, however, putting together a 13-5 run that evened the score at 15-15. North Texas rolled off 15 points to UALR’s eight over the remainder of the game for a 30-23 outcome.
Three UNT players recorded double-figure kills and two had double-double’s to lead the Mean Green. Sophomore outside hitter Brieanne Fowler (Odessa, Tex.) accounted for a match-high 19 kills and narrowly missed a double-double with nine digs. Corina Marginas (So.; OH; Brasov, Romania) recorded her 10th double-double of the year with 18 kills and a team-high 16 digs. Sophomore setter Kristin Sheppard (Texarkana, Tex.) also had a double-double with 55 assists, just three shy of her season-high, and 13 digs. Jessica Shockley (So.; MB; Saginaw, Tex.) also registered double-figure kills with 10, tying her season high mark.
North Texas had more kills (68-47), attacks (172-147), assists (62-43), digs (62-58) and a higher hitting percentage (.209-.109) than the Trojans.
North Texas has now knocked off two of the Sun Belt Conference’s three preseason favorites to win or tie for a division title. The Mean Green defeated Denver, the preseason favorite to win the West Division, on Sept. 21 and UALR was picked to tie Western Kentucky for the East Division championship. In just seven Sun Belt Conference outings, the Mean Green has already won its most conference matches since capturing four in 1996. The match also marked the first time since 1995 that North Texas has won three-consecutive conference matches. UNT also has its best conference record through seven games since 1995, when it started the season with a 5-2 conference mark.
"I think we’re taking positive steps each week," said North Texas head coach Cassie Headrick. "Last weekend was a step in the right direction and tonight was another."
Headrick, a former player and assistant coach at UALR, is very familiar with the Trojans program. "I look at this team as measuring stick for us," said Headrick. "They have been very successful in the past and this was a good gauge to see where we are going. This was a good sign that our team is maturing and getting to the spot where everything will come together."
For the first time this season, North Texas was able to come back from a 1-0 deficit to win a match. The team is now 1-4 under those circumstances. "We did something against UALR that we haven’t been able to do before," said Headrick. "We stepped up, did a good job and are only gaining confidence with every win."
The Mean Green remains at home to face Arkansas State in a Sun Belt Conference cross-divisional match tomorrow at the Snake Pit. The match is scheduled to get under way at 7 p.m.