A Review Of The 2014 Mean Green Volleyball Season
North Texas Finishes With 22-10 Record, Multitude Of Accomplishments In Second Year Of Palileo Era
DENTON - In a season full of emotions, the North Texas volleyball team put together a stellar 2014 campaign under second-year head coach Andrew Palileo. The Mean Green had one of the best seasons in team history, earning 22 wins and unparalleled individual accolades.
North Texas closed out the regular season on a record nine-game winning streak en route to a third-place regular season finish in the team's second year of Conference USA play. The longest win streak in program history extended to 10 wins with a victory over Southern Mississippi in the conference tournament's opening round, setting up a tough matchup with a Western Kentucky squad that finished the season with a 16-1 C-USA record.
After dropping two sets to the Hilltoppers in the championship's semifinal round, North Texas put up a valiant effort in the third set in an attempt to spark a comeback. That effort wasn't enough to overcome the eventual C-USA champions, but a rough ending could not overshadow the special season that Mean Green volleyball put together throughout the year.
The 2014 campaign was indicative of the success that has continued since Palileo stepped in last season. The former Pac-12 Coach of the Year notched his 300th career victory while leading North Texas to within a game of the C-USA championship match. The list of accomplishments could go on and on: the best road record since 2006, the best start in team history (9-1), and the best regular season finish all-time (9-1). One thing is clear - this season was one to be proud of.
Even with a season so full of team success, one player was undoubtedly in the spotlight. Junior Carnae Dillard established herself as one of the top offensive performers in the country in 2014. On Nov. 11, Dillard was named Sports Imports/AVCA Division I National Player of the Week after strong performances in sweeps of Rice and TCU, the first time since 2006 that a North Texas volleyball player was awarded a national weekly honor. The eventual Conference USA Player of the Year and first-team all-conference selection ranked third in the NCAA in kills per set (5.39) and points per set (5.9), fourth in attacks per set (13.21) and fifth in total kills (615). Dillard led C-USA in all of these categories.
But the junior outside hitter wasn't alone in having an impressive 2014. In her last season suiting up for the Mean Green, Senior Hanna Forst picked up second-team all-conference honors while recording 337 kills on 980 attacks, both of which are good for second on the team behind Dillard. In addition, her 226 digs were the third-most for North Texas this season.
Freshman Amanda Chamberlain was awarded an all-freshman honor from C-USA after a season of consistency at the net. Chamberlain finished the season tied with a team-leading 84 blocks. Sophomore Amy Henard was the only Mean Green player to be named to the conference's all-academic team. The two-time C-USA Setter of the Week had the team's best hitting percentage on the season (.329) and moved into the top five on the North Texas career assists list with 2,192.
The Mean Green loses only three players to graduation. Combine 13 returners with an incoming class of talented Texas natives, and North Texas look sfully prepared to compete for a C-USA championship in 2015.