Mean Green volleyball head into conference following struggling start to season

Mean Green volleyball head into conference following struggling start to season

Mean Green volleyball head into conference following struggling start to season
September 20
13:00 2018

The North Texas volleyball team is set to start conference play Sept. 21, but their season hasn’t started as many thought it would. 

The Mean Green has started the season with a 4-11 record, and are 1-11 over the past 12 matches. Their only wins come against Nicholls State, Northeastern, Kent State and Mississippi State. They have faced losses against ranked opponents No.12 Baylor, No.2 Wisconsin and No.14 Cal Poly.

Last year the Mean Green went 29-4, their best record in school history. Coming off such a historical season, expectations were high, and many are aware that North Texas needs to make strides in order to salvage the season. Through 15 games in 2017, the Mean Green were 13-2 with losses against Southern Miss and Texas Tech.

This season brought plenty of fresh faces to the court, as the team is majority underclassmen at this point in the season. Head coach Andrew Palilio has accepted blame for some of the issues with the younger athletes.

“I think we’ve had a lot of younger players playing too much and some of them just aren’t ready,” Palileo said. “Some of our older players need to play a little better.”

Two of those older players are Karley York and Jordyn Williams, two seniors from San Antonio who have worked their way up the Mean Green leaderboards. As seniors, the two have served as leaders for the team the past two seasons. True freshman Rhett Robinson has also stepped into a leadership role despite her inexperience and has already notched 149 kills on the season.

“I think we really needed to work on playing together and our team defense really struggled through that stretch of games,” Robinson said. “I think we’ve been working a lot harder and becoming more disciplined.”

In 2017, York accumulated 1,441 assists in 33 matches, good for 11.81 assists per set. In 2018, York has set 479 assists, with 9.39 assists per set. York is on pace to tally 1,054 assists, down from last season. As the freshmen are learning and improving, all-Conference-USA York has a plan for the season.

“Our team lost because of the easy points, we need to improve on more of the easy balls,” York said. “We need to stabilize those [easy balls] and play our own game.”

The bright side for the Mean Green is that the toughest part of their schedule is behind them. Conference-USA has zero nationally ranked programs, and this gives North Texas the chance to take what they learned in losses against larger programs to conference.

“Playing against big teams is very good because it lets us know where the open spots are against really good teams and we can do better against even lesser teams,” Robinson said. “Personally, going in I’m excited and hope we play well [and] together.”

Palileo echoes these feelings and has no doubts in his team.

“Our experience playing against really good teams will help us manage moments better than we did against those tough teams,” Palileo said.

The Mean Green will be back in action in an attempt to bring this season together on Friday, Sept. 21 against Louisiana Tech in the first conference game of the season in Ruston, LA. Louisiana Tech is also struggling in 2018, as they sit at 5-9. North Texas defeated Louisiana Tech in three sets in both of their matches of the 2017 season.

Featured Image: File

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Joshua Paveglio

Joshua Paveglio

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