North Texas couldn’t have asked for a better way to head into the Sun Belt Conference season.
The Mean Green had a chance to post a landmark win Tuesday when Baylor came to town and did in impressive fashion, sweeping a team it hadn’t beaten since 1983.
UNT will look to build on that victory at 1 p.m. today, when it faces Louisiana-Lafayette in its Sun Belt opener. The match is the first of two this weekend for the Mean Green, which will take on Louisiana-Monroe at the same time Sunday.
“From a confidence standpoint, we feel really good right now,” UNT head coach Ken Murczek said. “You can talk about things all you want, but when you are doing them and hitting at a certain efficiency, blocking and digging and have the numbers behind it, it’s great.”
UNT’s win over Baylor was its fourth straight, coming on the heels of a three-match winning streak to cap the Alabama State tournament last weekend.
The Mean Green will head into league play with a 14-5 record and hopes to challenge for the Sun Belt title.
UNT has lost in the conference tournament semifinals in each of the past two seasons.
Western Kentucky, which plays in the Sun Belt’s East Division, is the favorite and recently cracked the American Volleyball Coaches Association Top 25. The Hilltoppers are ranked 24th this week.
Murczek said reaching the Sun Belt tournament final is among the Mean Green’s goals.
UNT will try to attain that goal behind the tandem of Courtney Windham and Carnae Dillard, who are averaging 3.40 and 3.35 kills per set, respectively.
UNT is confident that duo and an all-around balanced lineup can help it challenge for the West Division title and make a run in the conference tournament, especially after its win over Baylor.
“You get measured on your record, and if that is how you measure us, we have been pretty good at 14-5,” Murczek said. “We had a really nice win against Baylor.
“That can be a double-edged sword. You feel pretty good and can turn around and lay an egg. We are guarding against that heading into the weekend.”
BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .