Mean Green Battles Denver In 3-1 Setback

DENTON (11/7/04) -- The North Texas volleyball team (6-20, 5-8) threatened to push Denver (12-13, 6-7) to a final game despite dropping the first two contests, but the Pioneers escaped with a 30-27 fourth-game victory to claim a 3-1 (30-23, 33-31, 25-30, 30-27) win in Sun Belt Conference action at the Snake Pit on Sunday.

The two teams entered the match tied for third place in the West Division and fighting for a spot in the upcoming Sun Belt Conference Tournament. Although North Texas dropped the match, it still clinched a spot in the tournament because Louisiana-Lafayette dropped its match on Sunday as well.

Denver hit .225 while holding NT to a .083 hitting percentage in the first game to claim a seven-point win and take the early momentum. The second game was much closer and North Texas actually held game-point twice, once at 29-27 and again at 31-30. However the Pioneers took the games last three points to capture a 2-0 advantage at the break.

North Texas responded by hitting .200 in a five-point victory in the third game. The Mean Green followed its victory up by hitting a team-high .213 in the fourth game, but Denver also had its best hitting performance of the match at .364. The final game was close throughout, but Denver was able to hold off North Texas late and avoid the season sweep. NT defeated the Pioneers 3-2 in Denver earlier this season.

The statistics for both teams were very close, much like the match. Denver finished with just three more kills (69-66), two more digs (84-82) and one more block (13-12) than North Texas.

The Mean Green was led by sophomore outside hitter Tara Hooser with a career-high 19 kills on a .368 attack percentage. She was joined in double figures by Brittney Gregory with 16. Anne Pope narrowly missed her second double-double of the season with nine kills and a career-high 25 digs.

Heidi Johnson recorded a team-high 55 assists and now needs just 15 more digs to become the eighth player in school history to record 1,000 assists in a single season.

North Texas will play its final non-conference match of the regular season on Wednesday when it hosts SMU at 7 p.m. The Mean Green will close out the regular season this weekend with two Sun Belt Conference matches.



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