Murfreesboro, TN (ASU) — The Arkansas State volleyball squad
(17-12, 11-5) was eliminated from the Sun Belt Conference
Championships Thursday night as the No. 5 Mean Green of North Texas
(20-12, 11-5) took a 3-0 victory over the fourth-seeded Red Wolves at
Alumni Memorial Gymnasium in Murfreesboro, Tenn.
ASU struggled early, dropping set one 25-15. The Red Wolves got off
to another rocky start in the second set, but Arkansas State was able
to pull within three at 22-19. UNT took the next point on a service
ace, but a kill from freshman Ashley Tipps and a Mean Green attacking
error allowed the Red Wolves within two. North Texas got a kill from
senior Amy Huddleston, and an ASU error put the set away for the Mean
Green at 25-21.
The Red Wolves kept set three close early, staying within two points
until an attacking error gave UNT a 12-9 advantage. From there, the
Mean Green went on a 5-1 run to put the score at 17-10. Arkansas
State scored on a kill from junior Cayla Fielder, but North Texas
answered with four more consecutive points. ASU rallied to within
three, but the rally would not prove to be enough as the Mean Green
won set three 25-21.
"We were not prepared to play hard," said ASU head coach Justin
Ingram. "North Texas had a nice game plan against us. We knew they
were going to hit hard. We knew they wanted to stay in long rallies,
and we could not sustain a high level of play. Our level of touch on
the ball was limited this evening. We could not string together good
things to put on the pressure and gain momentum. It was difficult for
us all night. North Texas did a great job and we could not compete
with them tonight."
Tipps led the team with nine kills on the night and a .412 hitting
percentage. Fielder and freshman Sadie Clark each added six kills,
while sophomores Jasmine Terry and Taylor Coughlin each put in four.
Freshman Megan Baska led the defense with 16 digs, while Coughlin was
the only other Red Wolf in double-digits with 13. Sophomore setter
Emme Russell put up 20 assists.
"It was a nice season for us overall," added Ingram. "We had some ups
and down and few hiccups along the way, but overall it was a nice
season. We have tied for the western half of the conference two years
in a row. This is a great accomplishment for the girls. There were a
lot of positive things that happen we can take going into future
years. We have no seniors and only two juniors on this team. This team
could be together for awhile, so we really want to focus on all the
positive things from the season and take them forward in the spring
and the 2011 season."
The semifinal round of the SBC Championships will be held Friday, with
No. 2 Western Kentucky taking on No. 3 Florida International at 5:00
p.m. and regular-season champion No. 1 Middle Tennessee facing North
Texas at 7:30 p.m.