Volleyball splits weekend matches against North Texas


Julia Maenius

Kirby Smith readies to spike the ball during a game earlier this season. Smith recored her second double-double of the season on Friday against North Texas, leading the offense with 19 kills.

Julia Maenius, Magazine Editor

The UTSA volleyball team (3-5, C-USA 1-1) began their Conference USA (C-USA) slate with a pair of matches against North Texas (3-5, C-USA 1-3). The Roadrunners dropped the first match in five sets to the Mean Green before emerging victorious the following afternoon with a win in four sets.

UTSA began the first match with a back-and-forth volley of points with North Texas, tied at five and 10. The ‘Runners responded with a four-point uncontested scoring run. The Mean Green answered by closing the scoring gap at 15-14 before committing a scoring run of their own, taking the lead at 20-17. Junior outside hitter Kirby Smith led the offense with a double-double, registering 19 kills, 16 digs and two blocks. Rallying to close the match, the ‘Runners tied the set at 22 and 23 all before North Texas closed the set with a block, 25-23.

The second set followed the first’s suit with both teams trading points, eventually evened at 12 all. The Mean Green took the lead with a 17-15 lead. A kill from Smith and a block gave the ‘Runners the scoring advantage at 18-17. Sophomore outside Hunter Coppola contributed 11 kills and four blocks for the match, closing with her seventh kill to take the set, 25-21.

North Texas took the advantage in the third set, taking UTSA’s 11-8 lead away with a kill and forcing ‘Runners hitting errors. Sophomore setter Courtney Walters recorded a double-double for the match with 42 assists and 12 digs with four kills. The ‘Runners rallied as North Texas reached set point with two kills and a service ace. The Mean Green closed the third set with a kill, 25-19.

The ‘Runners claimed the lead early in the fourth set, 17-14. North Texas responded with back-to-back kills and forced three attacking errors on the ‘Runners side of the net. UTSA outhit North Texas in the final stretch of the set, pushing past the regulation 25 points to claim the set 27-25 with a block from Coppola and middle blocker Jessica Langridge.

In the fifth and final set, North Texas opened with the lead. Smith recorded her 18th kill of the match to tie the game at 3-3. The Mean Green responded with a 7-3 lead and, after switching leads with UTSA once, pushed a 10-7 lead. Libero Mia Ybarra led the defensive front for UTSA with 28 digs. Trading points, UNT forced multiple errors from the ‘Runners and claimed the tiebreaker and the match, ending the set 15-13 and the match 3-2.

Turning the series around the following day, the ‘Runners claimed the win in four sets. Opening the match, North Texas took the advantage with a three-point run after the set was tied at 11 all. Walters fueled the offense by recording 45 assists and eight digs. The ‘Runners forced multiple Mean Green hitting errors, capitalizing on the front row, closing the set 25-22 with a kill from Coppola. 

Bouncing back from dropping the first set, North Texas opened the second set by claiming five of the first six points, taking a 5-1 lead. UTSA forced multiple North Texas errors to tie the set 6-6. Ybarra tallied 19 digs and three assists for the match with Smith chipping in eight kills and 17 digs. The Mean Green took a 20-11 lead before outhitting the ‘Runners to claim the set, 25-14. 

Trading points to start the third set, senior defensive specialist (DS) Alexis Pratt claimed 11 digs with freshman DS Maddie Thayer chipping in 12. The ‘Runners took the lead late in the set with a 17-13 points advantage. Freshman middle blocker Amanda Ifeanyi recorded double-digit kills with 10 and four blocks, contributing to her stat line with back-to-back kills to push UTSA to set point. Capitalizing on a hitting error, the ‘Runners claimed the set 25-21. 

Entering the fourth and final set of the match, North Texas began with the advantage, taking a 3-2 lead. After evening the set at 10-10, UTSA claimed five kills before the Mean Green tied the set at 16 all and took the lead. A kill from Ifeanyi tied the set 19-19, allowing UTSA to take the lead and be the first to 20. Coppola led the offensive front at the end of the fourth set. Coppola secured 13 kills and five digs for the match. To close the match, Coppola took the match point with a kill from a Walters assist, 25-22. 

The ‘Runners will be on the road this week to face the University of Texas at El Paso Miners in a back-to-back matchup on Feb. 21 and 22, before returning to the Convocation Center to host the No. 4 ranked Texas lineup on Feb. 25.