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Conference USA Champs: Volleyball sweeps MTSU to claim regular season title

Conference USA Champs: Volleyball sweeps MTSU to claim regular season title

November 11
15:18 2017

Exactly 365 days ago, North Texas volleyball was waking up a day after getting swept by Western Kentucky. It was their fifth loss in seven games and the team fell to 12-18 and 6-7 in Conference USA play.

Saturday afternoon, exactly one year later, the Mean Green won their first regular season conference championship in school history.

North Texas defeated Middle Tennessee State University in straight sets (25-11, 25-21, 25-11) at the Mean Green Volleyball Complex, capping a regular season that will go down as one of the best in program history.

“The biggest thing is that we finally had some experience, have the talent and we have the depth this year,” head coach Andrew Palileo said. “To top it off, it’s a group that built their foundation on having better relationships with each other and really taking care of each other as teammates.”

En route to winning Conference USA and their 14th straight match, the Mean Green (26-2, 13-1) also put up the highest attack percentage in school history (.600) in their win over Middle Tennessee (7-23, 2-12).

The North Texas offense came out with its eye on the crown and refused to let up against the Blue Raiders.

“It was our energy,” senior middle blocker Holly Milam said. “We realized what was on the line and we didn’t want anything to come in the way of that so I think we were really determined to finish this regular season off.”

The Mean Green had just two errors in the entire match and every single player with a kill had an attack percentage over .430. The Blue Raiders only managed one block against North Texas, showing the array of ways North Texas attacked.

The lone player with double-digit kills for the Mean Green was freshman outside hitter Valerie Valerian, who had 14 on a .609 attack percentage. For Valerian, the key to their offense was junior setter Karley York, who had 32 assists and two block assists.

“It was Karley,” Valerian said. “She was putting those balls right where we needed them at the [right] time. They were serving really tough, so we did a good job serve-receive wise, just being able to put the ball right there [for us].”

The bonds built on this team from the freshman to the seniors has been harped on throughout the season and it showed in their final home match.

Now that they have reached one of their biggest goals, they know their relationships were a huge reason for their success.

“We established that bond from the beginning,” Valerian said. “So just being able to accomplish the goal we set as a sisterhood, I feel like that contributed over time.”

After the final Middle Tennessee attack went into the net, the players celebrated in a frenzy. Shirts were passed out, a champagne bottle filled with confetti was brought out and poster that read “North Texas Volleyball C-USA Champions” was handed to the team.

It’s something that seemed a long ways away after last season. But as they held the sign up together Saturday afternoon, the Mean Green knew they had finally done it. They are Conference USA champions.

“After it was kind of rough last season, we got together and realized what we wanted to do and how we wanted to do it,” Milam said. “We’re just excited it payed off and I couldn’t be more happy that I got to do it with my sisters.”

Featured Image: North Texas celebrates its Conference USA regular season championship after Saturday’s win over Middle Tennessee State University. Courtesy Manny Flores and North Texas Athletics Communications

About Author

Matthew Brune

Matthew Brune

Matthew Brune is the Senior Sports Writer for the North Texas Daily, covering football and men's basketball.

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