The North Texas volleyball team entered Monday afternoon's matchup with Sun Belt champ Texas State as the underdog. However, that didn't matter to the Mean Green.
UNT swept the Bobcats in three straight sets (25-22, 25-17, 25-22) to pull off the upset at the North Texas Volleyball Center.
"We just continue to improve week by week," coach Andrew Palileo said. "Our defense stepped up again, and I'm really excited about the progress we've made over the last two weeks. Our team just continues to fight and work hard, and that showed today in a really big win for us."
UNT handed Texas State — which received 21 votes in the most recent ACVA Top 25 poll — its first road loss of the 2020-21 season. The Bobcats (25-3) entered the contest 15-0 on the road. The Mean Green are now 3-1 against Texas State under Palileo.
The Mean Green finished with 12 blocks in just three sets, including seven blocks from Sarah Haeussler. The junior middle blocker has racked up more than six blocks in each of the past three contests.
Miranda Youmans tied a season high in blocks with four, while freshman Kenzie Smith also tied a season high with three blocks.
"During the week, we talked about getting a lot more touches at the net to take the speed off the ball," Haeussler said. "We really focused on our game plan, we stuck to our game plan and that helped us pull off a big win today."
Barbara Martin led the Mean Green with 11 kills and nine digs, including a team-high .296 attack percentage. Martin also finished with a career-high five aces.
The serve-receive game has been crucial for UNT this season, and the Mean Green dominated that part of the match against the Bobcats. North Texas finished with seven aces and just two service errors, while Texas State made 10 service errors and seven receive errors.
"This whole team continues to respond with our backs against the wall," Martin said. "I'm so proud of our team. ... Our defense came up huge today with clutch blocks and digs. We just have to keep working in the gym and continue the momentum we have right now."
In the first set, UNT stunned the Bobcats, as a block and kill from Martin gave UNT a 9-7 lead. After Texas State regained the lead, the Mean Green closed the first set on an 8-1 run for a 25-22 opening set victory.
After dominating the second set 25-17, the Mean Green and Bobcats went back and forth in a tightly contested third set. With Texas State leading 18-17, UNT scored four consecutive points to force a timeout and take a 21-18 lead. Several plays later, Martin capped off the sweep with a kill that deflected off a Bobcat blocker.
North Texas travels to Baylor to take on the No. 6 Bears at the Ferrell Center at 6 p.m. Friday.