North Texas Daily

WKU avenges regular season loss as Mean Green fall in C-USA tourney title match

WKU avenges regular season loss as Mean Green fall in C-USA tourney title match

November 19
17:55 2017

Just ten days ago, North Texas celebrated on their home court after a monster five-set win over the seemingly unbeatable Western Kentucky University.

In doing so, the Mean Green earned the No.1 seed in the Conference USA tournament which took place over the past two days and wrapped up with a championship rematch between North Texas and Western Kentucky. 

In the highly-anticipated championship bout, the Lady Toppers used their home advantage to defeat North Texas in four sets 25-15, 25-17, 20-25, 25-21 Sunday afternoon.

“We came out slow which is what we’ve done all tournament,” head coach Andrew Palileo said. “And on the road it is truly tough to overcome that.”

In all three of their tournament matches, the Mean Green (28-3, 13-1) dropped their opening sets. However, this time, the Lady Toppers (30-3, 13-1) were able to take a commanding 2-0 set lead before North Texas was able to recover.

This was Western Kentucky’s fourth straight C-USA tournament championship while North Texas had never before made it to the C-USA tournament final. 

“Western came out ready to play,” Palileo said. “We came back in that third set, but you could tell that they’ve been in this match before.” 

The headlining acts for the Mean Green usually consist of three seniors in middle blockers Holly Milam and Amanda Chamberlain along with outside hitter Alexis Wright.

The group had a tough afternoon though, as they combined for 29 kills and 18 errors with the highest attack percentage between them being Milam’s at .118.

“Everyone played their hardest but a lot of people had their off game,” freshman outside hitter Barbara Teakell said. “Not having our star players on their [best] game hurt us a lot.” 

Teakell finished with eight kills on a .353 attack percentage, but the team as a whole struggled to recreate the energy from 10 days ago. In the end, the Mean Green were outhit by the Lady Toppers .272 to .137 and committed 30 errors in the loss.

“I think the biggest [problem was] we were focusing on the end result instead of what we had to do to get to the end result,” Teakell said. “[Being down] makes things chaotic and the biggest thing for volleyball players is staying in the moment and staying calm.”

Western Kentucky came out swinging early and put North Texas away in the fourth set mostly by way of their blocking. They totaled 15 and did not allow Chamberlain or Wright to get loose. Junior setter Karley York had 40 assists but failed to convert on seven of her attacks.

Palileo’s team did not accomplish its goal of securing an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament, but he seems to think the team has a good chance to receive an at-large bid based off of its RPI.

While that may be true, Palileo was still not satisfied with his team’s performance in the championship match.

“We didn’t scramble very well or pick up the 50-50 balls,” Palileo said. “We just didn’t have it today. I know we lost at least four or five balls on just effort plays.”

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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