DENVER, Colo. (11/15/01) The North Texas volleyball team (12-17) was one point away from advancing to the Semifinals of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament, dropping a 16-14 fifth-game decision to Florida International (20-8) on Thursday night.
North Texas, the No. 3 seed out of the West Division, made a fierce comeback after falling two games behind to start the match. The Mean Green held a 9-6 lead in the final game and a 14-13 advantage late, but gave up three consecutive points to the Golden Panthers on both occasions. FIU was the No. 2 seed out of the East Division.
“I thought nerves might have been a factor in some of our players late in the fifth game,” said North Texas head coach Cassie Headrick. “We had looked at tape of this team and knew where the holes were, but got away from what worked.”
Coming out of the break down two games, sophomore outside hitter Corina Marginas (Brasov, Romania) led North Texas to 30-24 and 30-23 victories in games three and four, respectively. She came alive to record eight kills in each game, almost tripling her combined total (six) for the first two games. The First Team All-Sun Belt Conference selection tallied a match-high 29 kills and broke the school record for kills in a single season with 596.
“We just needed one game to give us some confidence,” said Headrick. “We stuck with the game plan and rotated well. We were able to get some good match-up’s in the second part of the match.”
The match marked the 16th time this season the Mean Green have played five games in a match. “We did a lot of the things we’ve done all season,” said Headrick. “The sign of the future is whether or not we learn and build from this.”
The Mean Green registered a negative hitting percentage in a 24-30 game-one setback and despite holding a 19-16 lead in game two, North Texas once again fell 24-30. North Texas could only manage a .031 attack percentage in the first two games, while the Golden Panthers hit .265 up to the break. The Mean Green finished the match with a .215 hitting percentage in comparison to FIU’s .244.
North Texas only came away with one block in the first two games, while FIU tallied eight. However, the Mean Green ended the match with seven blocks to the Golden Panthers 11.
Including Marginas, four North Texas players finished the match with at least 10 kills and three posted a double-double. Brieanne Fowler (So.; OH; Odessa, Tex.) finished with 14 kills, Tanya Samples (Jr.; MB; Nocona, Tex.) had 11 and Anne Pope (Fr.; MB; Aurora, Colo.) recorded 10. Fowler, Marginas and Kristin Sheppard (S; So.; Texarkana, Tex.) all finished with a double-double. Sheppard had a match-high 62 assists and 10 digs. Marginas led the Mean Green defensively with a team-best 11 digs and Fowler tallied 10 digs.