North Texas Daily

Volleyball bounces back from first set loss to keep NCAA Tourney hopes alive

Volleyball bounces back from first set loss to keep NCAA Tourney hopes alive

November 17
23:59 2017

Coming off a historic regular season, it was time for North Texas to begin its final push to the NCAA Tournament as the No. 1 seed in the Conference USA tournament.

Facing the No. 8 seed Marshall University, North Texas had plenty of confidence going in because of a sweep over the Thundering Herd just two weeks ago. 

But then Marshall stormed out of the gate and shocked the Mean Green by winning the first set.

However, the North Texas recovered to win the next three against Marshall and take the match in four (19-25, 25-20, 25-16, 25-12).

“I thought Marshall came out really prepared,” head coach Andrew Palileo said. “I thought after our girls settled down in the middle of the second set we were able to do some good things, made a couple good adjustments and hung in there with our game plan.”

After an opening set where Marshall had an attack percentage of .385, the Thundering Herd failed to hit over .212 in the following three sets.

The North Texas blocking and defensive efforts gave Marshall fits as the Mean Green tallied 10 blocks, led by senior middle blocker Amanda Chamberlain, who had seven block assists in the win. 

“We worked a lot on blocking coming in,” sophomore outside hitter Valerie Valerian said. “So we just applied what we’ve been taught and executed well.”

Valerian led the team with a career-high 18 kills on a .341 attack percentage.

In addition, junior Jordyn Williams posted a career-high 15 kills on a .750 attack percentage. The two led the Mean Green in those categories.

Junior setter Karley York had 53 assists in the four sets.

“Coming in in the second set I had a good chance in the first set to see where the open spots were,” Williams said. “And [I saw] what was and wasn’t working from the middles in front of me. Also, Karley put up some really good balls.”

While the Mean Green had 19 errors in the first three sets, they only had one error in the fourth set to close out the match.

To the surprise of the players and coaches in green, North Texas had plenty of friends and family make the trip to Bowling Green, Kentucky.

“It kinda surprised me,” Palileo said. “It’s great with the season we’ve had everybody has been enjoying what we’ve done and that crowd was awesome. I didn’t realize how many were here and we’re excited for them to be here.”

Now, the Mean Green advance to the second round where they face the University of Texas at San Antonio, at 4 p.m. Saturday. 

North Texas defeated UTSA in four sets earlier in the season at home and meet them again with a chance to advance to Sunday’s conference championship. 

“We just have to come out better,” Palileo said. “I think the pressure of being the number one seed weighed on us [early] and no matter who we play we have to make sure we come out quicker because anything can happen.”

Featured Image: North Texas Junior Alex Janak (left) and senior Amanda Chamberlain (right) block a kill by a Louisiana Tech player in a game against Louisiana Tech on Oct. 1 at Mean Green Village. North Texas defeated LA Tech in three sets. Sara Carpenter

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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