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Dillard providing more than dominating play to volleyball program

Dillard providing more than dominating play to volleyball program

Sidney Johnson | Staff Photographer

Dillard providing more than dominating play to volleyball program
September 21
16:27 2015

Brady Keane | Staff Writer

@BradyKeane3

Senior outside hitter Carnae Dillard’s play on the volleyball court speaks for itself.

The career leader in attacks at North Texas is a dominating force for the Mean Green week in and week out, and the senior captain currently leads Conference USA with 301 kills.

But it’s not just Dillard’s strong play as the force of the North Texas offense that sets her apart from other players across the country. As the lone senior on the Mean Green this season, Dillard’s work ethic and leadership are crucial to the team’s success on the court.

“Carnae is a special player,” head coach Andrew Palileo said. “She tries to lead by example, and her work ethic is demonstrated every day in practice. The way she goes about her business is a great role model for our younger players.”

Dillard’s dedication and leadership on and off the court are traits that the captain has developed over her last four historic years in the program. They are also qualities she credits to the competitive background in her family.

Dillard’s older brother, Donta Watson, was a basketball star at Emporia State University in Kansas. Watson led the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association in scoring, free throw percentage and three-pointers made during the 2006-2007 season.

Sophomore outside hitter Carnae Dillard leads North Texas in attacks, kills and receptions and is second in aces. She tied her career high in kills with 31 against Marshall. Photo by Margaret Saucedo / Intern

File Photo

“I always saw his determination, fight, and love for the game,” Dillard said. “He would do whatever it took to win, or be a better teammate for his team. We’ve been in the same situation.”

In addition to the role that Watson played in developing Dillard’s love for the game, former Mean Green standout Shelby Tamura also influenced the leadership ability the senior brings to the table.

“I just remember sophomore year, looking at her and just loving the way she played the game. I strive to be like Shelby,” Dillard said. “She was so driven, and she wanted the team to do well no matter who was on the court. She gave everything she had to the game.”

Now, Dillard brings that same determination and passion to the court for the Mean Green. However, the 2014 C-USA Player of the Year has never been one to let the spotlight get to her.

Despite being a record holder and being acknowledged with awards each year at North Texas, Dillard is known as a humble player by both teammates and coaches.

“Obviously, she is one of the best players to ever play here. But she is a pretty quiet player,” Palileo said. “She’s a grounded player, and we don’t have any issues there.”

Even after Dillard passed Corina Marginas to take sole possession of the attack record at North Texas, junior captain Amy Henard remarked on the humble nature of the senior.

“She’s going to be very humble about it,” Henard said. “She’s accomplished so much over the years, and she works so hard. I’ve always had faith and trust in her.”

As one of the best players to ever step on the court in a North Texas uniform, Dillard has a big impact on the program as a whole. With 14 out of the 16 players on the roster being freshmen or sophomores, her success on the court sets the bar high for those who will try to follow in her footsteps.

“She’s someone I look up to,” freshman outside hitter Hannah Shaw said. “I want to model my game after her.”

But Dillard’s impact on the team is not limited to dominating at the net and setting the example for those younger players.

“It helps with recruiting because recruits like to see a high-level player like that in your program,” Palileo said. “They have seen the progress she has made and the awards she has, and that helps.”

As the Mean Green prepare to kick off the full C-USA schedule this week, Dillard will play an integral role in what the team hopes is a championship season.

“It’s a lot of pressure,” Dillard said. “I just try to do what the others before me did. I want this program to be successful even after I leave, and that means doing whatever it takes to help everyone out.”

Featured Image: Players prepare for a serve at a North Texas volleyball practice on Sept. 21. Sidney Johnson | Staff Photographer

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