MURFREESBORO – Mean Green volleyball's roll continued on Friday afternoon. A straight set win on the road over Middle Tennessee State (25-18, 25-9, 25-22) pushes North Texas' (12-15, 8-3) winning streak to seven sets, and four matches in a row.
Middle Tennessee (7-8, 2-9) struggled to attack with just a .137 hitting percentage. North Texas was efficient, with a .410 hitting percentage, led by sophomore Valerie Valerian's
15 kills and .517 hitting percentage.
"Val had a very good all-around game today," head coach Andrew Palileo
said. "She's been much more efficient offensively, and has worked hard both defensively and blocking."
Senior setter Karley York
provided 31 assists which puts her season mark at 974 as she closes in on 1,000 for 2018. York also checked in with 10 digs for a double-double. Freshman Rhett Robinson
provided eight kills while sophomore Barbara Teakell
checked in with eight kills and 10 digs.
Valerian's double-digits is her 21st double-digit kill mark of the year. After overcoming some shaky moments in set three, North Texas has won eight straight matches against Middle Tennessee.
The Mean Green hit at an 88 percent clip in set one as it won 25-18. The Mean Green won six of the final 10 points to open a gap that the Blue Raiders could not overcome. One of Middle's seven service errors ended the set.
Set two was all North Texas, and never looked any other way. The Mean Green rolled, reaching the winning 25 mark before allowing Middle Tennessee to reach double-digits. Seven straight Mean Green points ended out the set at 25-9.
Just two errors were committed as North Texas hit at a .407 clip. The Blue Raiders committed 20 attacking errors compared to the Mean Green's eight.
"We talk about efficiency versus effectiveness," Palileo said. "I think we've been doing both more consistently."
Set three was a back and forth affair as Middle Tennessee tried to cling to any hope it had left. After an early North Texas timeout trailing 9-6, the Mean Green went on to win 10 of the next 16 points to force a Blue Raider timeout with the visiting team up 16-15.
The two sides traded blows until Valerian hit the final dagger to give North Texas the set 25-22. The Mean Green improve to 4-3 in three-set matches in Conference-USA play.
"We are heading in the right direction with both our attention to detail and culture," Palileo said. "It's been a combination of things, injured players returning, younger players making improvements. Culturally, [we are] staying true to what we agreed to as a team at the start of the season."