For Mean Green volleyball, the 2016 season was subpar at best

For Mean Green volleyball, the 2016 season was subpar at best

For Mean Green volleyball, the 2016 season was subpar at best
November 22
11:29 2016

After falling to the University of Southern Mississippi in the first round of the Conference USA volleyball tournament and ending the season 13-17, it is safe to say this was least successful Mean Green team under head coach Andrew Palileo.

Although North Texas had made it to the conference tournament every year since joining C-USA, this is the first season under Palileo the Mean Green was unable to make it to the semi-finals.

I have covered this team since the annual green and white scrimmage before the season began all the way up until the C-USA tournament this past weekend. After experiencing the highs and lows of the grinding season, I can comfortably say North Texas’ performance in 2016 was subpar at best.

There are a few diamonds in the rough, though, namely juniors Holly Milam and Amanda Chamberlain. The two heartily embraced their roles on the team since Carnae Dillard departed last year, and were the go-to girls when it came to the offensive attacks.

They were both named to the first team all-conference, which showcases their importance to the team. With those two returning next season, I’m sure we will see more career records, and possibly North Texas records, being broken.

But if you want to compare season records over the last four years, well, it probably would not be that positive.

Until 2016, the Mean Green never had a losing season under Palileo. In fact, the last time North Texas posted a record under .500 was in 2009 under former head coach Cassie Headrick. It’s been a while since the Mean Green struggled like they did this season.

Almost every time I did a post game interview with Palileo, I would ask him what the team needed to improve on before their next game. The answer was almost always blocking and outside hitting.

A list of the early signees for the class of 2017 was released last week and two girls are outside hitters, one is a libero, one is a middle blocker and one is a middle blocker and right side hitter. I’m excited to see how these recruits will help the Mean Green, because after the season they just had, heaven knows they need them.

When at home, if North Texas won, Palileo and the rest of the team would come out of the locker room to greet their friends and family who came to support that day and I would usually interview them there in the gym. If the team lost, I would have to drag my feet to Palileo’s office to talk to him.

Before this volleyball season, I would occasionally get nervous about talking to coaches after a tough loss.

But Palileo always greeted me with a “come on in, and let’s get this over with.” Joking, of course.

Maybe.

Regardless, he was not afraid to admit what he noticed was executed poorly or what he thought needed to be changed.

And change he did.

Palileo mentioned to me when he noticed the outside hitters weren’t doing a good job, he would get Milam to move around on the court covering those areas as well. Also, the libero jersey, which was mainly worn by freshman LekaLeka Kiner-Falefa, donned the back of multiple players this season, including junior Meredith Bramer and senior Amy Henard. For a player who had set records at the setting position, it came as a shock to me on when Henard was chosen to take the reigns as libero in the middle of the season.

I later learned that Henard switched because she trusted sophomore setter Karley York at the net with her and trusted Palileo’s judgement on where she needed to be in order to best improve the team.

With Henard being the only one to graduate from the squad and five early signees joining, the 2017 season should be one to look forward to. Milam and Chamberlain will be a force to be reckoned with during their senior year as current freshman Emma Eakin also steps into a leadership role as an experienced sophomore. Eakin, who received the honor of making C-USA all-freshman team, is another young player that should help North Texas going forward.

So while there were standout players and moments, this team and this season was not the best North Texas has seen.

I, like many Mean Green faithful, will be leaving this year far behind in my mind and will be going into the next one with high hopes North Texas moves back into a position to contend for a conference championship.

Featured Image: Junior Amanda Chamberlain spikes a ball into the opponents playing field Saturday in the North Texas Challenge. Tomas Gonzalez 

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Courtney Anderson

Courtney Anderson

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