DENTON – In front of 401 Mean Green faithful, the North Texas volleyball team continued its winning streak, defeating the University of Southern Mississippi in straight-sets (25-18, 25-23, 25-23) to close the regular season.
North Texas (15-15, 11-3) close the season on a seven-game winning streak. Southern Miss (16-14, 7-7) close the year in the middle of the pack in Conference USA.
Sophomore Valerie Valerian
led North Texas in kills with 18 after she put up 14 on Thursday night against UTEP. Thursday's kill leader, sophomore Barbara Teakell
, had another big match herself with 10 kills. Teakell and Valerian were the only two North Texas players to reach double-digits in kills. Teakell provided three digs as well.
Head coach Andrew Palileo
was happy with the way his team finished the year.
"We came out with a lot of energy," Palileo said. "The crowd, what a great crowd. I think offensively we did a pretty good job. We are spreading the ball a lot better."
The Mean Green will finish in either fourth or fifth place in C-USA depending on the result of the Florida Atlantic and Middle Tennessee match which will be played Sunday. With all the momentum behind them, the Mean Green are ready to face the challenge of the C-USA tournament.
The tournament kicks-off on Nov. 16 in Huntington, WV on the campus of Marshall University.
"It is kind of like a fresh start," Teakell said of the tournament. "We have to use what we're doing right and focus on the basics. We have to go in with a strong mindset. Our mindset is not doubting our ability and just playing our game."
The Mean Green took set one behind Valerian putting up six kills to lead all players. North Texas hit with great efficiency, notching 16 kills on 29 attacks and committing just five errors. The Mean Green out hit Southern with a hitting percentage of .379.
The Golden Eagles made life much more difficult in sets three and two. Led by a charge from one of the top attackers in C-USA, senior Kylie Grandy, Southern Miss kept set two close until the end before North Texas closed things out 25-23.
The Mean Green led deep into set three before Grandy got going. She finished with 13 kills and a .267 hitting percentage. North Texas led 21-15 before five straight points from the Golden Eagles made the score 21-20 in favor of the home team. Southern miss won three of the next six points to force a North Texas timeout, before Valerian put the match to bed off an assist from senior Karley York
. York finished with 36 assists and four digs.
All focus now shifts to the conference tournament.
"I think Karley is doing a better job of distributing the ball," Palileo said. "I think we are going in [to the tournament] with everything coming together. I think everybody is in a good mind set."