LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - The North Texas volleyball team stumbled on the road at UALR on Friday night, dropping a key four-setter that knotted the Sun Belt West Division standings with just two regular season matches remaining (25-23, 23-25, 25-17, 25-23).
The Mean Green (17-12, 9-5 Sun Belt West) magic number to win the West remains at four, but it will need some help from Arkansas State thanks to Friday's loss to the Trojans (5-17, 3-9 Sun Belt West). NT takes on ASU on Saturday night in Jonesboro at 7 p.m.
A 34-23 edge in attack errors was the difference for a Mean Green squad that struggled with its rhythm all evening. Overall, NT's 44 total errors were the most of the year.
North Texas led by as many as five (13-8) in the opening frame before UALR made a furious late comeback to take the first set, 25-23. The Trojans closed on a 9-3 run despite hitting just .162 in the set.
The Mean Green took its first lead of the second set at 14-13 on a Roxana Casvean swooping kill, but it wouldn't last long. The two squads locked horns and didn't separate themselves by more than a point until UALR's Paige Gantar landed an ace, followed by an NT error that made it 22-19.
Brittani Youman and Casvean stopped the bleeding with a pair of kills, and back-to-back Youman aces put NT in the lead at 23-22. A Rachelle Wilson block gave NT the set and tied the match at one set apiece.
Amy Huddleston led the NT offensive efforts with a match-high 14 kills. Kayla Saey's 13 digs led the Mean Green, as did her match-high 45 assists.
A wild third-set dig from setter Kayla Saey at the 10-foot line scored for NT after it flew across the net and landed harmlessly past the UALR back line. More importantly the play helped NT claw back into the match at 15-12 after trailing by as many as seven. UALR put its foot on the accelerator after that play and took the third set 25-17.
NT tied the fourth set at 17 apiece on a Melanie Boykins block, but couldn't make it stick. A Mean Green attack error ended the set and the match at 25-23.