North Texas Daily

Volleyball looking to win back-to-back conference championships

Volleyball looking to win back-to-back conference championships

Volleyball looking to win back-to-back conference championships
August 30
00:18 2018

North Texas volleyball is back in action for the 2018 season — they are looking to win back-to-back conference championships after winning their first conference title in program history last season.

In addition to winning a conference championship last year, the Mean Green narrowly missed out on a bid to the NCAA tournament. North Texas not making the tournament surprised many people, considering they were the C-USA regular season champions.

North Texas head coach Andrew Palielo was the first coach to lead the Mean Green Volleyball team to a conference championship. He said the Mean Green are going to take it one game at a time to go for the back-to-back championships.

“I don’t know if we’re thinking that far ahead this early in the season,” Palileo said. “We talk about caring for each other as teammates. We talk about having the work ethic that is required consistently day in, day out. We talk about being aggressive. If we focus on those things, we’ll put ourselves in a position to talk about that at the end of the year.”

Karley York, veteran setter and team captain for North Texas, is in her final year of competing for the North Texas volleyball team and is recently coming off C-USA Player of the Week honors, which she earned by recording more than 12 assists per set to go along with six blocks.

York said missing out on the tournament last year has her team determined to make it now more than ever.

“Making the tournament has always been my goal, and that’s been everyone’s goal,” York said. “It was heartbreaking not making it last year, but it has only motivated us even more to try and get in to the tournament this year.”

The Mean Green had an impressive overall record of 29-4 last season, with a conference record of 13-1. They were the No. 1 seed in the C-USA tournament but got eliminated after a loss from Western Kentucky University in the championship game of the tournament, which ultimately cost them a bid to the NCAA tournament.

Despite the heartbreaking finish, North Texas was able to beat big-time programs in the 2017 season. They upset both Mississippi State and Boston College on the road, while also taking down Oregon State and Oklahoma at the North Texas Volleyball Center.

However, the Mean Green did lose their top two scorers from last year, Holly Milam and Amanda Chamberlain, due to graduation. Palielo said he has seen younger players step up and take the scoring role early in the 2018 season.

“Barb, Rhett and Val have been the ones scoring for us,” Palielo said. “We have to get the middle hitters caught up because they are lacking a little experience from last year. We’ll do that little by little, and I think they’ll be fine.”

Palileo is referencing to sophomore Barbara Teakell, freshman Rhett Robinson and sophomore Valerie Valerian. Valerian, who graduated from George Ranch High School in Sugarland, Texas, already has 48 kills in four games.

“I’ve worked really hard on hitting different shots and hitting aggressive so far this year,” Valerian said. “Also, Holly and Amanda are great players. Last year I was able to watch them and see their tricks, so being able to implement those shots into my game plan has been a pleasure.”

Robinson and Valerian also earned C-USA Player of the Week awards. Robinson averaged approximately three kills per set and had seven blocks over the weekend, while Valerian had approximately four kills per set and five aces.

Sophomore outside hitter Barbara Teakell sets the ball over the net in a game against Kent State University. The Mean Green is on a current win streak (3-1). Rachel Walters

North Texas started the season 3-1, with their lone loss coming on the road against 12th-ranked Baylor.

This past weekend, however, was full of winning. The Mean Green hosted and won the North Texas Invitational tournament with dominating wins against Nicholls State, Northeastern University and Kent State University. They won all nine sets throughout the two-day tournament.

The North Texas Volleyball Center is a place known for being loud during the season. In fact, a crucial part of the Mean Green’s success last season was going 14-1 at home during the regular season, Palileo said.

“Our players love playing here, especially when the gym is packed,” Palileo said. “This is a pretty fun place to play, [apart from] the low ceilings. They enjoy playing here and our band is great, so it definitely is an advantage playing at home.”

Valerian also described the home atmosphere as a momentum builder.

“I absolutely love it,” Valerian said. “When everyone is here cheering us on, it really does build momentum. Having our crowd really does give us an advantage.”

The Mean Green is set to travel to Malibu, Calif., and Manhattan, Kan., the next two weekends for tournaments but will return to Denton on Sept. 9 to take on the Wisconsin-Madison University Badgers, currently No. 8 in the nation.

Featured Image: Senior middle blockman Jordyn Williams hits the ball over the net against Kent State.The Mean Green won three sets in a row, (25-17), (25-17), (25-14). Rachel Walters

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Bronte Hermesmeyer

Bronte Hermesmeyer

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