North Texas (16-10, 10-4 Conference USA) volleyball beat Texas-San Antonio (15-12, 8-6 Conference USA) in five sets. The Mean Green won the first two sets and the fifth set by 25-20,25-17, and 15-8.
The Roadrunners won sets two and three by 25-23 and 25-17. North Texas had four different starters out today including sophomore middle blocker Sarah Haeussler, junior setter Kaleigh Skopal, junior outside hitter Barbara Teakell, and freshman defensive specialist Jordan Burks were all out in today’s game.
“I think we executed the game plan” assistant coach Carrie Gurnell said. “They caught us off guard when the adjusted to the five one. I took us a little bit of time to adjust but once we got it we took off from there.”
They might be able to bring back Teakell and Burks for the conference tournament which still remains to be seen. The starters for the Mean Green were sophomore setter Kailyn O’Neal, sophomore outside hitter Rhett Robinson, junior middle blocker Miranda Youmans, freshman outside hitter Avery Mccrillis, junior outside hitter Valerie Valerian, freshman middle blocker Alysha Johnson, and libero Aleeyah Galdeira. This is the first start for McCrillis this season.
Valerian had 18 kills with a hitting percentage of 41, two assists and 10 blocks giving her a double-double in the match. Kailyn O’Neal received 38 assist and two digs. Sophomore defense specialist Kasey Bortnem had 10 assists, five digs, one kill and two blocks. McCrillis accumulated 13 digs, nine kills with a hitting percentage of 41.2 and an assist in her first start. Robinson had 11 kills, eight digs and three blocks. Galdeira got 12 digs. Youmans had six blocks, seven kills with a hitting percentage of 25 and an assist. Johnson received eight kills with a hitting percentage of 33.3.
“We did well the first two sets then we got loose,” said Head Coach Andrew Palileo. “We played well that set five we did a lot of things well and played a bit tougher in that set.”
North Texas had fewer kills than the Roadrunners with 58 kills to 54 kills. The Mean Green had a higher hitting percentage than the Roadrunners with 30.5% compared to 24.5%. North Texas had a lot of aces in the match with 14 aces compared to Texas-San Antonio with 11 aces. The Roadrunners had more assists than the Mean Green with 56 assists to 52 assists. North Texas had two more digs than Texas-San Antonio with 52 digs to 50 digs. The Roadrunners had fewer blocks than the Mean Green with nine blocks to five blocks.
“[Mccrillis] did great,” Palileo said. “I challenged her at the beginning of that first set because I knew they were probably going to challenge her a little bit and make her play.
For the Roadrunners, senior outside hitter Brianna Mcculloch tallied 17 kills with a hitting percentage of 41.9, two digs, and two blocks. Sophomore outside hitter Hannah Lopez had 13 kills with a hitting percentage of 21.6%, one assist, and 13 digs giving her a double-double for the match. Freshman setter Courtney Walters received 39 assists, three kills, and seven digs. Senior defense specialist Emily Ramirez had 15 digs and six assists. Freshman middle hitter Jenna Patton had three blocks, two kills, and an assist.
“It was exciting about [Bortnem] blocking” Palileo said. “She touched a lot of the swings when they were trying to cover her so that helped us out quite a bit getting some digs.”
UP NEXT: North Texas plays in the Conference USA tournament on Nov. 22 in Houston. The Mean will be going into the tournament ranked third overall for conference. They are going to be playing Friday at 7 p.m. against Texas-San Antonio and will play the winner of Rice and Texas-El Paso.
Featured Image: Junior outside hitter Valerie Valerian spikes the balls during the game against Texas-San Antonio on Nov. 16, 2019. Image by Isabel Anes