LAFAYETTE, La. (11/17/02) - Led by four players with double-figure kills, the North Texas volleyball team (16-16, 10-5) picked up a 3-2 (25-30, 30-22, 24-30, 30-24, 15-11) road victory over UL Lafayette (15-13, 9-5) in its regular-season finale on Sunday to secure the No. 3 seed in the upcoming Sun Belt Conference Tournament.
Not only did the Mean Green pin UL Lafayette with its first home loss of the season, it’s the first team to take a single game off the Ragin’ Cajuns at home this year. North Texas ended UL Lafayette’s six-match winning streak and was able its break a three-match skid in the process.
Down two games to one, the Mean Green picked up the victory by winning the matches final two games. North Texas hit .282 and .227 in the final two games, respectively, while holding the Ragin’ Cajuns to no better than a .146 attack percentage over the same period. NT finished the match with a .215 hitting percentage in comparison to UL Lafayette’s .136 and had four more kills than the Ragin’ Cajuns despite attempting 21 fewer attacks.
Middle blockers Tanya Samples (6-2; Sr.; Nocona, Tex.) and Brittney Gregory (Fr.; 5-11; Klein, Tex.) both registered double-figure kills and combined for 28 of the team’s 68 total kills. They were also a force defensively as Gregory collected six blocks and Samples three. Outside hitters Brieanne Fowler (5-11; Jr.; Odessa, Tex.) and Jill Ruskowski (6-0; Jr.; Richmond, Tex.) also finished with double-figure kills, piling up 14 and 17, respectively.
Kristin Sheppard (5-9; Jr.; S; Texarkana, Tex.), Fowler and Ruskowski all collected a double-double. Sheppard had a match-high 58 assists and 10 digs, while Fowler had a team-high 15 digs and Ruskowski had 13 digs to go along with their double-figure kill totals.
"We gave another team effort this match," said North Texas head coach Cassie Headrick. "It’s hard to go into their gym and win, so we knew that we were going to have to work together. Our middles have stepped up lately and they played well again today. Their play has taken some of the heat off our outside hitters both offensively and defensively and allowed us to do some different things."
With 16 victories, including 10 in Sun Belt Conference play, the Mean Green enjoyed its best regular season since 1995. North Texas’ 16 victories are the most since 1995 and its 10-5 conference record was the third best in the league. The Mean Green will square off against the No. 6 seed, Middle Tennessee, in the first round of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament on Thursday at 7 p.m.
"This victory is a huge momentum builder," said Headrick. "This team absolutely knows and feels that it can go into the conference tournament and contend for a championship. We are excited to get to Miami and see how far we can go."