DENTON - The North Texas volleyball team returns home Sunday after a successful weekend road trip which saw ground gained in the Conference USA standings.
Youth shined for North Texas.
Freshmen Sarah Haeussler and Rhett Robinson had impressive performances as the Mean Green downed Western Kentucky in straight sets (25-16, 25-22, 25-23) Friday night, and won a hard fought five-set battle against UAB (23-25, 25-21, 26-24, 20-25, 15-8) Sunday afternoon.
"It was a great weekend," head coach Andrew Palileo said. "It was good for our team. We won in two different ways. We won in three executing our plan, and we won in five not executing our plan. We have some good things to follow up on this weekend. We are trying to just clean things up."
Robinson earned C-USA Freshman of the Week honors, her second this season with the first coming after conference play opened on August 27.
The local product notched a career high in blocks with six against WKU, and recorded her third highest kill total in a match this season with 19 against UAB. Robinson has 128 kills and 28 blocks in conference play, with 70 kills and 20 blocks coming in October alone.
"The girls have done a better job of understanding what we want to do systematically," Palileo said. "Not only Rhett, but it's a combination of everyone doing their jobs. When someone feels like they have to pick up for someone else all of a sudden you've got two people not paying attention to their own jobs. That is what we are trying to work on."
Robinson ranks second on the team in kills in conference play behind only sophomore Valerie Valerian, who has 160, with 84 coming in October.
Haeussler has made her presence known and a huge impact on the defensive side of the net in league play. The Aledo, Texas, native has blocked 40 attacks in C-USA play which ranks second on the team behind the reigning C-USA Defensive Player of the Week, senior Jordyn Williams.
She also recorded career highs during the weekend road trip, in blocks with six against WKU and in kills with eight against UAB.
North Texas nears 100 percent health after the return of sophomore outside hitter Barbara Teakell. As things begin to return to normal, it is a welcomed change for the leaders of the team, like senior Karley York.
"It's exciting," York said. "We are all very motivated right now. I think getting everyone back we are seeing our potential, and we haven't really seen that this year. Everyone who comes back just adds a little bit more."
The Mean Green will square off with Marshall (10-13, 3-6 C-USA) Sunday afternoon at noon at the North Texas Volleyball Center. This will be the first meeting between the two schools this season after North Texas dominated the series in 2017, winning 3-0 (25-21, 25-16, 25-15) on the road during the regular season and 3-1 (19-25, 25-20, 25-16, 25-12) in the Quarterfinals of the 2017 C-USA Tournament.
"No matter where our teams are in the conference, or what our seasons look like [North Texas and Marshall] play hard against each other," Palileo said. "I don't expect anything different. We are going to have to play hard for sure and execute in things I think we have an advantage in."