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Recap: Volleyball drops first match of the season to Wichita State, reloads for Friday’s final match against Shockers

Recap: Volleyball drops first match of the season to Wichita State, reloads for Friday’s final match against Shockers

Recap: Volleyball drops first match of the season to Wichita State, reloads for Friday’s final match against Shockers
February 05
02:02 2021

The North Texas volleyball team (0-1) began their season with a 3-0 loss to Wichita State University (4-0) Thursday night.

“It felt great that we were able to get started again and play someone other than ourselves in practice,” Head coach Andrew Palileo said. “What we talk about as a team is try to stay connected and make sure no matter what we do that our defense shows up tonight, because defense is all about making effort on plays and not much more than that, and I think we came up a little bit short in that as well. I’m definitely happy to be playing again.”

The Mean Green’s season opener was delayed twice because of COVID-19 related issues with the team. Wichita State came into tonight wielding a 3-0 on the season.

“We just got to get used to it, we got to back into it we got to get everybody [back],” Palileo said. “We had a couple players just come in just yesterday right out of their quarantine to go onto the court.”

The coronavirus issues prevented the Mean Green from having practice sessions with the same people on a consistent basis.

“I had some young kids have the opportunity to play and see how they reacted in certain situations,” Palileo said. “The older group I knew what their level of play would be, it was just a matter of can we move some of the younger players along and play at a different level than what they came in as.

One of those older players was senior setter Kaliegh Skopal, who made her comeback today after being diagnosed with Guillain-Barré Syndrome in November 2019.

“It was great, she came back and played well,” Palileo said. “I think we made her work a little bit too much, more than I thought. It’s a good game for her to break out in, get some sweat out and get a feel for a match again.”

Skopal led the team with 17 of the Mean Green’s 21 assists and contributed 13 digs, a kill and a save.

“It was awesome,” Robinson said. “I have missed her so much, it was such a relief. I missed having her energy on the court.”

North Texas fell behind early in all three sets with Wichita’s fast starts led by Shocker Sophia Rohling’s career-high 14 kills and .609 hitting percentage.

“I feel like our system wasn’t as strong as theirs, they were in system a lot more than we were while we were kind of scattered,” Junior Rhett Robinson said. “I feel like we were stressing out because we had fallen behind a few times.”

The Mean Green will face Wichita State Friday at 1 p.m.

“We got to get back in shape and everybody playing together and playing as one,” Palileo said. “It’ll take a couple of matches and hopefully a week or so of practice and I think we’ll be right back at it.”

Courtesy Mean Green Sports

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James Carroll

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