WICHITA, Kansas - After a disappointing end to the Conference USA tournament, the Mean Green ended its schedule on a high note with a win over Wichita State in four sets (25-20, 20-25, 25-22, 25-19).
The win cancels out a sweep at the hands of the Shockers (13-17, 8-10) earlier this season and allows North Texas (17-16, 11-3) to finish a game above .500. The Mean Green are eligible for an invite to the National Invitational Volleyball Championship. Sophomore Valerie Valerian
led the way with 25 kills for North Texas. Freshman Rhett Robinson
and senior Jordyn Williams
also reached double digits with 11 and 10 kills respectively.
For head coach Andrew Palileo
the focus now shifts to a possible postseason tournament.
"Val had a great match today" Palileo said. "She was dominant. She executed some critical kills for us."
Valerian added 11 digs to push her into a double-double.
"She was dominant on both offense and defense," Palileo said.
Senior Karley York
exploded for 55 assists and nine digs. Her nine digs push her to over 1,000 on her North Texas career. The Shockers had three attackers reach double-digit kills, but failed to attack efficiently. North Texas hit at a .322 percentage while Wichita State hit at just a .272 rate. North Texas also committed less attacking errors.
The Mean Green took set one 25-20 after opening up the set with the lead at 2-0. The Shockers never stringed more than three points in a row together while North Texas did well to never let the Shockers snowball its points together. In set two the Shockers found a bit of footing. After another 2-0 lead for North Texas, Wichita State won four straight points to flip the script. The Mean Green struggled to find a run as the Shockers kept its cushion to win the second set.
In set three things the two sides exchanged blows all the way into the 20's. North Texas took a 21-18 lead before the Shockers charged back to, at one point, close the gap to 21-20. The Mean Green went on to win four of the next six points to close out the set and set up a chance to take the match in set four which North Texas would take advantage of.
It was tight early yet again as the two teams traded points to get to 8-8 before the North Texas attackers took over. The Mean Green won eight of the next 10 points to force a Wichita State timeout with a 14-9 lead. Valerian had an ace out of the timeout which set the final stages of the match into motion. North Texas closed out the match with three of the last five points to seal the win.
"Our play today was a continuation of what we've done the last several weeks," Palileo said. "Hopefully it is enough to get into a postseason tournament. We will see."
The NIVC will announce its 64-team field late Sunday evening. Follow along with @MeanGreenVB on all social channels for updates if we find ourself in the field.