Volleyball Opens NIVC Play Thursday Against Oral Roberts
Mean Green, Golden Eagles Square Off At 7 p.m.
DENTON - Disappointment washed over the faces of North Texas' volleyball players as they watched their hopes of an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament slip away in Sunday's Selection Show. Huddled around the television in the living room of head coach Andrew Palileo's Denton home, the team wondered what lay ahead for their postseason.
"The initial feeling was disappointment," senior middle blocker Holly Milam said, "but after we saw the NIVC bracket, we were all really excited. Especially to be able to play in front of our own fans."
The Mean Green accepted an automatic bid to the National Invitational Volleyball Championship (NIVC) as the C-USA regular season champion and face Oral Roberts in the first round at 7 p.m. Thursday at the North Texas Volleyball Center. While it's not what the team expected, as one of the last four out of the big dance, their attitude immediately shifted to making the best of it.
"We still have a lot more achievements to be made in the postseason," junior setter Karley York said. "It's a really good tournament and there's a lot of good teams, so we're excited to compete."
The team is 6-16 all-time against the Golden Eagles and last met in 2015 at the Tulsa Volleyball Invitational. The Mean Green defeated ORU, 3-1, behind 13 kills and five blocks for then-sophomore Amanda Chamberlain.
Thursday will mark just the second postseason appearance for North Texas, who earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament in 1995 after winning the Southland Conference tournament. The Mean Green lost to USC in straight sets, so this year's team has a shot at the first postseason victory in program history.
Firsts are no stranger to this squad.
"This team has already broken so many records and this just gives us the opportunity to break some more," York said.
North Texas will also host the second-round matchup between the UNT-ORU winner and the winner of TCU and Wyoming, who face off at 4 p.m. Thursday at the North Texas Volleyball Center. With a 28-3 record and the highest RPI among the field, the Mean Green have a good chance to continue hosting if they keep winning.
"It's not very often you get to be in the postseason and get to host as well," Milam said. "I think that's one of the highlights I'll have as a senior to be able to have both."