Mean Green Fights Uphill Battle, Falls Short to WKU
North Texas Unable to Complete Comeback Against C-USA Leading Hilltoppers
BOWLING GREEN, KY - North Texas turned on the jets a little too late in Sunday's match, falling to Western Kentucky on the road in four sets (25-13, 25-18, 21-25, 25-19). The Hilltoppers remain undefeated in the Conference USA lead, while the Mean Green drops to 3-4 in conference play.
North Texas, entered E.A. Diddle Arena on Sunday with hopes of accomplishing a feat only one other Mean Green squad has been able to do before; beat Western Kentucky. Unfortunately, a slow start found the Mean Green on the ropes after a dominating performance by the Hilltoppers in set one. WKU crushed North Texas by 12, outhitting them .515 to .135 as a team.
"I was very proud of the way my team fought after the first set," head coach Andrew Palileo said.
In a much tighter second set, North Texas more than doubled their team attack percentage (.308) from the first frame. However, WKU stayed just as hot, hitting another incredible mark of .471. The Mean Green, heading out of the break down 0-2, would have to make adjustments to avoid falling victim to their third sweep of the season.
A fired up North Texas side came out fast in the third frame, leading the Hilltoppers by as much as eight. An incredible sequence including an all-out pancake dig by senior Hanna Forst and a rocket shot kill from junior Carnae Dillard extended the match into a fourth set. After leading late in set four, 17-15, the Mean Green allowed one final run by WKU, shattering all hopes of a comeback. If there's any silver lining from Sunday's tough loss, Forst found it.
"I think that's the first time we've taken a set from [WKU] since I've been here," Forst commented after the match.
WKU, a very talented and storied program, has dominated the all-time series against the Mean Green, winning 15 of 16 total meetings between the former Sun Belt Conference foes. The lone Mean Green victory came back in 2008, a three set affair in Denton. With today's 3-1 final score, North Texas breaks a streak of four straight three set sweep victories by WKU, dating back to 2011.
Dillard finished the match with 23 kills on 59 attempts, good for a .237 hitting percentage. By adding 14 digs to her stat line, the junior also picked up her 14th double-double of the season, pulling her within one of the NCAA leader.
Another day, another outstanding contribution by Forst. The senior, peaking at a perfect time in her North Texas career, recorded her second double-double of the season after a 14 kill, 14 dig performance against the Hilltoppers. In addition, she also added three total blocks. Forst's 52 attack attempts on Sunday marked the second best tally of her career.
Freshman Amanda Chamberlain rounded out the North Texas effort with six total blocks, equaling a season high set back on Sept. 6 at Texas State.
North Texas (12-8, 3-4 C-USA) looks to rebound from a tough two-loss conference weekend, when Charlotte (12-12, 1-6 C-USA) comes to town to square off on Friday, Oct. 17 at 7 p.m. inside the North Texas Volleyball Center. The Mean Green will then hit the road for a short one game trip to take on Louisiana Tech in Ruston on Sunday.
Be sure to check back on MeanGreenSports.com later this week for a recap of this weekend's events in our weekly segment "Daily Digs with Katie Dudding" and a full preview of the upcoming match.
Around the Conference:
- Florida Atlantic 3 at Charlotte 1
- at Southern Miss 3, Marshall 1
- UTSA 3 at UAB 1
- FIU 3 at LA Tech 0
- UTEP 3 at Middle Tennessee 1