North Texas Daily

Volleyball tournaments help prepare for conference play

Volleyball tournaments help prepare for conference play

Volleyball tournaments help prepare for conference play
September 17
22:43 2014

Kyle Youmans / Staff Writer

The Mean Green volleyball team, with its roster filled with nine freshmen, has made its way through the first month of the season and is off to the best start in program history with a 9-1 record. Along with having the best record in the Conference USA, the Mean Green has won or shared the title of all three of the nonconference tournaments it has played in so far.

The team’s win at the Delta Zeta Classic in San Marcos Sept. 5-6 was its first outright tournament title since 2012. It also won the Mean Green Classic Sept. 12-13 and won a share of the North Texas Invitational. These tournaments have helped the team to figure out what the individual roles are in the game plan, and what types of players will step up in certain situations.

Head coach Andrew Palileo’s team is extremely young, but it has not disappointed with its only loss coming at the hands of the nationally-ranked University of Missouri.

“We set all these tournaments up for that reason,” Palileo said, said. “So we can see where we are as a team before we head into conference play.”

The experienced players on the UNT roster such as junior outside hitter Carnae Dillard, sophomore setter Amy Henard and senior Eboni Godfrey have stepped up and led the younger players on and off the court. Dillard was awarded the C-USA offensive player of the week for the first two weeks of the season and is currently leading the conference in attacks and kills.

“Starting off the season with awards is really nice and exciting,” Dillard said. “But the thing we are most excited about is how fast the freshman and young players have been able to get comfortable in our system. Last year it was coach’s first year and it was really tough to pick up the system and find out what he wanted from us, but they have come in and gelled really well and bought in to what Palileo really wants to see on the court.”

Henard leads the conference in assists and is already in the top ten in UNT history in assists. She said the tournaments have been good for the Mean Green in all aspects.

“These tournaments are good for us to find where we are as a team,” Henard said. “It is also nice for tournaments like [the Mean Green Classic] to provide some playing time for some of our freshmen and some rest for some of our usual players like Carnae and Hanna [Forst], who is hurt. It really helps us prepare as we look ahead to conference games.”

There have also been a few freshmen on the Mean Green roster who have received some attention during the tournament play including middle blockers Mikali Myers, Amanda Chamberlain and Holly Milam. This trio has played more than any other three freshmen, due to the fact that it’s composed of the only three middle blockers on the roster. However, they have all lived up to their starting position. Chamberlain said tournament play has been great for the freshmen to see where they stack up.

“All these great teams we play during the tournaments are really helping us get things together,” Chamberlain said. “[The tournament] helps us get good hits in, good offense and defensive practice and if we really focus up and have a play like we have been, we really have a good chance to go in and take this tournament and the conference.”

The Mean Green concludes its nonconference tournament play this weekend in Lawrence, Kansas in the Jayhawks Classic starting Friday at noon against the 24th-ranked University of Kansas. This tournament could be the best competition that the team has seen all year as it looks to continue the best start in the program’s 38-year history, pushing the way to its first NCAA postseason appearance since 1995.

Featured Image: Freshman middle blocker Holly Milam bumps the ball so another Mean Green player could spike it over the net during the Mean Green Classic last weekend. Photo by Edward Balusek – Visuals Editor

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