North Texas Daily

Volleyball set to begin C-USA tournament play

Volleyball set to begin C-USA tournament play

Volleyball set to begin C-USA tournament play
November 17
14:00 2022

North Texas is heading into the Conference USA tournament with momentum after finishing their regular season with a 3-0 sweep of University North Carolina—Charlotte on Saturday.

The sweep marks their third in a row to end the season, pushing the Mean Green to a 15-14 record overall and a 9-5 record in C-USA play.

The team started the season 5-9 but won seven of their last 11 games to end the year strong and earn the No. 4 seed in the C-USA tournament.

“In this first year, it was really about creating a solid foundation,” head coach Kristee Porter said. “Coming in, I did not know what to expect — I did not know what we had or what we would be able to do, but in the first year I am really pleased with where we are so far, and just how they are starting to compete.”

Porter is one of many new faces for the program in a year that has featured nine transfers and five freshmen, with only five players returning from last year’s squad.

One of those transfers is junior middle hitter Sh’Diamond Holly, who has quickly become a core piece of the Mean Green offense, averaging just over 10 points per match with a .365 attacking percentage this season.

“It was a whole new team, a bunch of transfers and a couple of freshmen coming in and playing,” Holly said. “We struggled with getting our chemistry going — it is like a roller coaster like sometimes it is there and sometimes it is not, but with a younger and newer team that just comes with it.”

Another important piece of the offense that transferred into the program this year has been Treyaunna Rush, a junior opposite hitter who is averaging over 15 points per match with a .262 attacking percentage.

Rush attributed the team’s initial struggles to needing to get to know each other better but said that the team has come together and seen that they have the potential to be very good.

“Everyone has done a great job shaking off errors and not making it about themselves,” Rush said. “Here recently, we’ve done a better job of playing together as a team and everyone has been able to contribute to the game in some way.”

Limiting errors has been an important part of the Mean Green’s success all year. The team is averaging just over 18 errors in wins and just under 26 errors in losses.

Porter said playing clean and limiting errors has been the main focus in practice for the last couple of weeks heading into the C-USA tournament.

“The focus is on playing high-level, efficient volleyball,” Porter said. “Our offense can challenge anyone’s offense, it’s really just our errors and making mistakes that hurt — we have a tendency to give away points in bunches, so we have to be better at handling the ball and making sure that we are playing clean, low-error volleyball.”

Western Kentucky University or Rice University have won the C-USA tournament every year since 2014, with the two teams meeting five times in the championship round. The Hilltoppers and Owls are the top two seeds again in the tournament this year.

The Mean Green believe that they can compete with any team as long as they play clean and put the pressure on their opponents.

“If we serve well and get them out of their system a lot then we can be more successful,” Holly said. “When they are out of system, we can keep play on our side and apply more pressure.”

The team is looking to capture its first C-USA tournament championship in program history. The Mean Green have made the C-USA tournament every year since they joined the conference in 2013, but have only been to the championship round once, losing to Western Kentucky 3-1 in 2017.

Holly said the jewelry would be nice, but that the ring would not be the best part about winning a championship.

“I would just be happy to represent coach Porter,” Holly said. “In her first year coming in, just bringing us with her to let her know that we have her back and to bring something to our school — it would definitely mean a lot for me.”

Featured Image: Victoria Fontenot braces to hit the ball in a game against Rice at the North Texas Volleyball Center on Sept. 30, 2022. Photo by Marco Barrera

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Garrett Stringfellow

Garrett Stringfellow

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