The North Texas volleyball team ushered in a new era Friday night, netting the school’s first victory in Conference USA play by beating East Carolina 25-13, 25-13, 25-13.
“I’m excited for the girls that we got this win,” UNT coach Andrew Palileo said. “This start is great for the athletic department and great for the university.”
North Texas (9-8, 1-0 C-USA) made quick work of ECU. Sophomore Carnae Dillard unleashed 15 kills in the lopsided victory, while C-USA setter of the week Amy Henard added 33 assists.
“Getting the first conference-game win was a good way to set the tone going into the regular season,” UNT captain Shelby Tamura said. “On top of that, we controlled the speed of the match.”
The Mean Green will host a more familiar foe, Middle Tennessee, at noon Sunday. It will be the teams’ first matchup since last season’s Sun Belt tournament, a four-set victory for the Mean Green.
TWU d. Midwestern State
WICHITA FALLS — TWU posted 14 1/2 total blocks as it swept Midwestern State 25-18, 27-25, 25-15.
The Pioneers (10-4, 2-0 Lone Star) were led by senior Marcela Alves with nine kills, and Courtnee Davis added seven. Hillary Shaffer added six kills while Chloe’ Tate and Mallory Kuechle chipped in five apiece.
Alves led the Pioneers at the net with eight block assists.
In the first set, the Pioneers jumped out to a 9-2 lead and cruised to a seven-point win. TWU posted a .133 hitting percentage in the set while forcing the Mustangs into 11 hitting errors.
MSU regrouped and built a 15-10 lead halfway through the second set, but the Pioneers went on a 6-0 run to take a 16-15 lead. After eight ties and four lead changes, TWU closed out the set by scoring the final three points.
In the third set, the teams traded points early before the Pioneers went on an 11-4 run to take a 19-12 lead. TWU outscored the Mustangs 6-3 over the final nine points to capture the win.
“It’s a good conference win, and I am proud of the girls,” TWU coach Shelly Barberee said. “We were a little sloppy in the second set, but our defense at the net was outstanding the entire game. We have one more game [today] and we need to stay focused.”
The Pioneers will continue their road trip today in Lawton, Okla., with a 2 p.m. match against Cameron.
UNT 1, Southern Miss 1 (OT)
North Texas controlled possession and outshot Southern Mississippi 30-10, but the Golden Eagles scratched out a 1-1 draw to open Conference USA play.
Playing for Kodi Tutt and the Kick It Kodi foundation, the Mean Green (6-3-1, 0-0-1) found itself in front in the 12th minute thanks to the forward combo of Vanessa Ibewuike and Rachel Holden. Ibewuike flicked the ball on to the freshman, who played it back into the box for the senior to finish.
A dominating first half for North Texas yielded little results, as the nation’s leading scorer evened the game just before halftime. USM’s Danica Roberts notched her 12th goal with a right-footed blast.
UNT went into the break tied at 1 despite a 14-2 edge in shots over the Golden Eagles (6-2-3, 0-0-1).
The Mean Green twice thought it had scored potential game-winning goals — one with two minutes remaining in regulation and the other in overtime — but both were called back.
West Texas A&M 1, TWU 0 (OT)
CANYON — TWU suffered a heartbreaking overtime loss at West Texas A&M in a Lone Star Conference opener.
The Lady Buffs’ Berklee Watson netted the golden goal in the 98th minute on a free kick from the far left wing.
“It was a tough loss because we had some good chances that we did not finish,” TWU coach Babak Abouzar said. “We had quite a few people step up today. Erin [Bolinger] and Sara [Deeb] played a great game on defense. We put Hailey [Faul] and Gabby [Larson] in the midfield, and they were able to do some good things.”
West Texas had an 11-10 edge in the shots, including 7-5 in shots on goal. The Lady Buffs had a 7-4 advantage in corner kicks.
“Both teams had chances in regulation, but we found a way to defend,” Abouzar said. “It was a fun game to watch and be a part of.”
Junior goalie Lindsey Sisco made six saves for TWU. Freshman defender Brooke Hill led the team with four shots, including two shots on goal.
The Pioneers (3-5-1, 0-1-0) now head to Portales, N.M., to face Eastern New Mexico at 3 p.m. Sunday.
“We need to go back to the drawing board and get ready for Eastern,” Abouzar said. “We need to try to get a split on this road trip.”