Volleyball Hits Road For Pivotal Conference Matches
Mean Green Challenge Rice Friday, Southern Miss Saturday
DENTON – The North Texas volleyball team is on the verge of clinching its fourth-consecutive trip to the Conference USA tournament, but still has work left to do to secure a spot.
The Mean Green (11-12, 5-3 C-USA) will begin arguably its toughest stretch of the season this weekend, needing multiple wins to punch their ticket to the tournament in Houston beginning Nov. 18.
Four of the six teams left of the schedule are ahead of the Mean Green in the conference standings, including a matchup with No. 23 Western Kentucky on Nov. 10. In all, the opponents left on the schedule own a 30-23 record in conference play.
But before the Mean Green gets to that point, they have matches on Friday versus Rice and on Sunday versus Southern Miss.
North Texas vs. Rice (15-9, 7-2 C-USA)
Friday, Oct. 28 | 6 p.m. CT | Houston, Texas
The Owls’ record of 7-2 in C-USA play has them sitting in the third spot in the standings. Rice, who will host the tournament, and the Mean Green split its matches a year ago with each team winning on its home court. Since entering C-USA, North Texas owns a 3-2 advantage in the series.
Rice has players sprinkled across the conference leader board. Chelsey Harris’ 3.51 kills per set average is good for fifth in conference, while Madison McDaniel ranks third in assist per set average and Portia Okafor sits in second for total blocks.
North Texas vs. Southern Miss (16-7, 5-3 C-USA)
Sunday, Oct. 30 | Noon CT | Hattiesburg, Miss.
North Texas will finish the two-match road swing in Mississippi in what could prove to be a pivotal match that shakes up the standings. A win could potentially spring the Mean Green ahead of Southern Miss, depending on each teams’ result on Friday. Southern Miss faces a struggling Charlotte squad that has gone 1-7 in C-USA play and sits in the bottom two of the conference standings.
The Golden Eagles and the Mean Green have the same record in conference play, but Southern Miss owns the head-to-head tiebreaker after defeating North Texas, 3-1, on Sept. 23.
Stephanie Purdue, who ranks third in conference with a 3.87 kills per set average, leads the Southern Miss attack. She racked up 17 kills in the first meeting this season.