MIAMI, Fla. The North Texas volleyball team (16-17) had its chances to pull off a first-round victory over Middle Tennessee (17-14) in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament, but suffered a tough 3-2 loss that dashed its hopes for the league title.
The Mean Green led 2-1 after three games and held a 14-13 match-point advantage in the fifth game, but was unable to put the Lady Raiders away in either of the final two games. With the match on the line, Middle Tennessee was able to roll off the fifth game’s final three points and pull out a 16-14 victory that propelled it to the semifinals of the tournament.
The first match went in favor of MTSU, 30-27, but NT regrouped to win the second and third games by scores of 30-26 and 30-21, respectively. MTSU bounced back, however, to record a 30-26 fourth-game victory and then rallied in the fifth game to upset No. 3-seed North Texas.
The Lady Raiders gave North Texas trouble at the net, finishing the match with 15.5 blocks. While North Texas finished the match with 11 more kills and digs, it could only counter MTSU’s blocking attack with one block of its own. The Lady Raiders had a higher hitting percentage than NT, .263 to .235, but had 15 ball handling errors and 14 service errors.
Junior outside hitter Corina Marginas bounced back from an ankle injury that left her unable to play in the Mean Green’s previous two games to finish the contest with a match-high 19 kills. Jill Ruskowski and Kristin Sheppard each finished with a double-double. Ruskowski recorded 14 kills and 12 digs and Sheppard had a match-high 52 assists and 13 digs. Andrea Hansel led the Mean Green defensively with a match-high 17 digs.