North Texas Daily

Young volleyball team prepares for upcoming season

Young volleyball team prepares for upcoming season

August 28
00:28 2014

Kyle Youmans / Staff Writer

The Mean Green volleyball team is about to embark on another season, but this season will feature a younger team than usual.

Head coach Andrew Palileo, now in his second year on campus, finds himself surrounded by his first recruiting class and a team composed of nine freshmen compared to three seniors. There is more pressure this season on the coaching staff and the upperclassmen to step up and lead the inexperienced team.

“We’ve had to a lot more teaching initially.” Palileo said. “They’re good athletes and we just have to be patient to get them through the new system. Patience is a really important thing when you have such an inexperienced team.”

The Mean Green is coming off a good first year in  Conference USA in 2013, and also the first under Palileo’s leadership. The team went 17-15 overall with an 8-6 record in conference, last season. They also had had one the best home records at 11-2 in the conference and made it to the conference quarterfinals where they lost in a close battle with Marshall University.

Going into the start of the 2014 season, two-thirds of the roster is composed of underclassmen, which creates a lot of questions regarding the year after a winning season. However, freshman middle blocker Mikali Myers said that she and the other freshmen want to keep up the momentum that the older players have established.

“I think, personally, our roles is just to maintain the culture,” Myers said. “The upperclassmen all have a culture kind of established, which is just what we do automatically when we come into a gym, whether it’s our’s or someone else’s.”

In addition, the Mean Green will also be tested early on in the season by hosting the North Texas Invitational, which includes a game against the No. 15 University of Missouri Tigers.

“It’s really exciting; I don’t remember ever playing a team this big at home,” sophomore setter Amy Henard said. “We will definitely get to see where we are as a team by the end of this weekend especially after all of our scrimmages and with nine newcomers on the team; it will be nice to get to play someone else.”

Henard and junior outside hitter Carnae Dillard will help lead the young team. The three seniors, outside hitter Hanna Forst, senior defensive specialist Eboni Godfrey and setter Camille Cherry, will also return and provide experience. With all of the combined solid playing time and knowledge between them, there is a lot of pressure on these girls’ shoulders this year with such a young team surrounding them.

“I think that this year, with such a large group of young players it is really important for me to step out of the box and be a leader for those younger players.” Dillard said. “If the upperclassmen step up and take control of a leadership role than that could really help us down the road.”

The Mean Green tip off its season with three straight home games against Northwestern State, Mississippi Valley State and the final matchup against Missouri on August 30th at 7 PM.

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