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Saturday, September 18, 2021

ICYMI: Unsung heroes shine in volleyball’s win over Abilene Christian University

Article Originally Published by Tyler Luker on North Texas Daily

Article Originally Published by Tyler Luker on North Texas Daily

North Texas volleyball got back into the win column Saturday afternoon, sweeping the Abilene Christian University Wildcats in the finale of the North Texas Challenge.

“I think everyone just did their job,” sophomore libero Sophia Hagstrom said. “We wanted to go out there and win, so we went for every ball and served aggressively.

The Mean Green finished the North Texas Challenge with a 2-1 record in the tournament and a 6-3 record on the season. In the final match, unfamiliar faces once again played a major factor in the win for North Texas. Freshman setter Katie Butler checked in the game and had five aces with no errors on her 18 attempts.

“Katie [Butler] came in and did a great job,” head coach Andrew Palileo said. “That’s five free points that we didn’t get last night.”

Hagstrom and junior outside hitter Avery McCrillis also had key performances in the Mean Green win. Hagstrom’s 12 kills in the match were good for a season-high and proved to be too much for the Wildcats to handle. McCrillis was once again filling in as an impact performer in the absence of senior outside hitter Rhett Robinson, and she could not be contained, recording 11 kills and an ace in the contest.

“Sophia [Hagstrom] stuck out today, which we needed because against Montana State, that second position on the outside was not good for us,” Palileo said. “Avery [McCrillis] also sustained her level of play.”

North Texas won the first set by a margin of 25-20, hitting .321 in the process.

The second set featured a lot of back and forth action for the teams, with several lead changes. In the second half of the set, the Mean Green took control and never let go, winning 25-19.

Abilene Christian could not turn the tide in the third set, hitting a match-low .125 with seven errors en route to a 21-25 set loss and a 0-3 sweep to the Mean Green.

A noticeable change for the North Texas offense was that they spread the ball around a little more. Against Montana State University, 63% of the team’s kills were made up of just two players. In the match against Abilene Christian, four players had over five kills and the two leaders in kills made up 56% of the team’s total.

“I think we can continue to be more consistent,” Palileo said. “We had a little more balance today than we did last night.”

The team will have its final tournament before conference play on Sept. 17-18 in Peoria, Ill. for the Redbird Classic.

Featured Image: Graduate Student setter Kaliegh Skopal attempts to set up Mean Green teammate Sarah Haeussler for a kill against Abilene Christian University on Sept. 11, 2021. Photo by Zach Thomas

Source: North Texas Daily

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