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Recap: Volleyball sweeps Southern Mississippi, punches ticket to Conference USA Tournament

Recap: Volleyball sweeps Southern Mississippi, punches ticket to Conference USA Tournament

Recap: Volleyball sweeps Southern Mississippi, punches ticket to Conference USA Tournament
March 22
18:40 2021

After starting their season 1-5 and losing their first two conference games to the University of Alabama-Birmingham, Mean Green volleyball qualified for the Conference tournament after sweeping the University of Southern Mississippi. North Texas won 3-0 on Sunday and 3-1 Monday to punch their ticket.

“We had no other chance but to win these last matches in order to get in,” Senior middle blocker Miranda Youmans said. “We as a team know that that’s just not an option for us.”

The two games varied greatly from one another, with both teams almost tripling the number of blocks each team had Sunday in Monday’s match. North Texas’ (11-9, 6-6 Conference USA) hitting percentage went from .333 Sunday to .209, while Southern Mississippi similarly dipped from .216 to .166.

“They were a good job passing and hitting today, a lot better than they did yesterday,” Head coach Andrew Palileo said. “We had to fight and scrap a little bit more and keep the rallies in the game a little bit ugly until we could get our feet under us for the rest of that match.”

North Texas started the match with a 25-21 first set loss, which saw the same offensive dominance from both teams that Sunday’s game had. The next three sets were all more defensive-oriented, with the Mean Green winning all of them.

“I think honestly we could have stepped on him a little bit harder,” Youmans said. “I feel like our blocking scheme at first was a little bit crazy, but we ended up figuring it out towards the end and getting on them better with the blocking.”

The fourth and final set of Monday’s game was a momentum swing-fest which feature an 8-1 scoring run by the Mean Green, to which Southern Mississippi (9-8, 4-6 C-USA) countered with a 7-2 run of their own. The battle of comebacks was finally settled off a Southern Miss attack error, giving North Texas the 25-23 set win and the overall 3-1 victory.

“Momentum is huge. We were talking before we went on this winning streak that we needed to win at least three in a row, and we hadn’t won three in a row at that point,” Palileo said. “We’ve proved to ourselves that we can win more than just two in a row.”

This game caps off a five-game winning streak for the Mean Green, four of which were conference games, which was essential for North Texas to be able to make the tourney.

“It’s incredibly painful losing the first two conference games, and we had a tough schedule where we didn’t have a lot of practice time in several of our matches,” Palileo said. “We’ve come a long way.”

Up Next: North Texas will end its regular season with a rivalry game at Texas State University on March 25 at 6 p.m. The C-USA tournament will take place between April 1-3.

Fearured Image: Senior middle blocker Miranda Youmans prepares to strike the ball against Louisiana Tech on March 15, 2021. Image by Zachary Thomas

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James Carroll

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