North Texas Daily

Spurned by NCAA tourney, volleyball embracing top seed in NVIC

Spurned by NCAA tourney, volleyball embracing top seed in NVIC

November 29
18:45 2017

Late Sunday night, the North Texas volleyball team discovered it would not be a part of the NCAA Tournament field of 64.

While the disappointment lingered, the team’s reaction soon turned to excitement as they got the No. 1 overall seed in the National Invitational Volleyball Championship (NIVC).

The honor allows the team to play every game at home as they advance through the postseason in a tournament that is essentially the equivalent of college basketball’s National Invitational Tournament.

“The first feeling was definitely disappointment,” senior middle blocker Holly Milam said. “But it kind of went away when we saw the bracket for the NIVC, and now we’re all just really excited to just keep competing and leave our legacy in the postseason.”

The Mean Green finished the regular season with a 28-3 record, including wins over Western Kentucky University, Princeton University and Oregon State — three teams that made the NCAA Tournament. North Texas had the No. 47 RPI in the country and was listed as one of the “First Four Out” on the NCAA selection show.

But now, instead of facing the likes of Baylor University or the University of Texas, the Mean Green will have a more modest field of competition with a chance to play together for up to two more weeks.

“It’s just a chance to grow,” senior outside hitter Alexis Wright said. “Even though the seniors will be gone, the underclassmen need to get used to playing in the postseason because the goal is to make it to the NCAA Tournament one day.”

Head coach Andrew Palileo said the extra experience for a bevy of underclassmen is invaluable in a tournament setting. North Texas has played in pressure matches before, but in this tournament, one loss will end the season for good.

“I think it’s a really strong field, so I’m excited for the competition,” Palileo said. “And I’m excited that it’s a one and done situation, and we have that pressure of a survive and advance mentality. I want our players to get that experience as much as they can so we can get better in those moments.”

The Mean Green open up with Oral Roberts University (15-13) at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Mean Green Volleyball Complex. With a win, North Texas will host the winner of a match between Wyoming University and Texas Christian University.

After playing a tough stretch of volleyball in the conference tournament, Palileo decided to give his team some rest in order to re-energize them for the upcoming tournament.

“We got a little bit off this past week which I think gave our bodies rest,” Milam said. “I think just after today we’re back at it and ready to go.”

While some fans were outraged at the fact the Mean Green did not make the big dance, the NCAA Tournament is no longer on the team’s minds as the NIVC tournament approaches.

The challenge for Palileo after this season will be taking a look at what he can do to give his team an even better chance at reaching the NCAA Tournament in the future.

“[We’re] focusing on Oral Roberts right now,” Palileo said. “We can be upset about the position we put ourselves in as far as not making it, or we can be excited about our year still and move forward and make those changes next year — whether it was our scheduling, our RPI or whatever the reason was.”

Regardless, playing at home and playing potentially five more matches with one another is plenty of motivation to go out on top for this year’s record-breaking team.

“It’ll be fun,” Palileo said. “We have the opportunity to keep playing for a little bit longer. We’re excited about it, and we’re excited that we get to play at home.”

Featured Image: Mean Green volleyball players Karley York (1), Amanda Chamberlain (13) and Barbara Teakell (7) celebrate after scoring a point against Abilene Christian University. Madison Gore

About Author

Matthew Brune

Matthew Brune

Matthew Brune is the Senior Sports Writer for the North Texas Daily, covering football and men's basketball.

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