DENTON (10/16/04) -- The North Texas volleyball team (4-15, 3-4) was either within striking distance or led late in each of its three games against Florida International (2-15, 1-6), but was unable to win any of them in a 27-30, 27-30, 29-31 setback to the Golden Panthers Saturday night in a Sun Belt Conference match at the Snake Pit.
After dropping the first two games, the Mean Green was on the verge of winning the third game and getting back into the match before FIU rolled off four straight points to grab a 31-29 win. The Golden Panthers picked up its first Sun Belt Conference victory of the season, while the Mean Green fell to 3-4 in league play.
The Mean Green kept it close in the first two games, but saw the Golden Panthers hold on for three-point wins in each. With the score tied 23-23 in the opening game, FIU went on a 4-0 run and was able to keep at least a two-point lead the rest of the way. NT actually led game two 26-24, but the Golden Panthers finished strong by winning six of the game’s last seven points.
North Texas hit just .115 in comparison to Florida International’s .214 and gave up 14 more kills, eight more digs and three more blocks to the Golden Panthers. The Mean Green posted its best attack percentage of the night in the final game at .279, but FIU had its best game as well with a .286 hitting percentage.
North Texas was led by Brittney Gregory with 15 kills and 12 digs, both team highs. The junior middle blocker recorded her fourth double-double of the season and is now just 13 kills away from becoming the third player in school history to post 1,000 kills in a career.
Oksana Zabalueva did the most damage for FIU, recording a match-high 18 kills on a .361 attack percentage. She had just five errors in 36 attempts and gave the Mean Green trouble for most of the night.
North Texas returns to the road next week for matches against Sun Belt Conference foes Arkansas-Little Rock and Arkansas State. The Mean Green will play UALR on Friday at 7 p.m. and ASU on Saturday at 7 p.m. as well.