DENTON, Texas — Junior Mekaila Aupiu logged a double-double as the UTSA volleyball program got back in the win column on Sunday, taking down North Texas 25-22, 25-15, 17-25, 18-25, 15-10 in a five-set American Athletic Conference thriller at the North Texas Volleyball Center.
The Roadrunners (9-11, 2-7 AAC) survived a late comeback by the Mean Green (11-11, 5-4 AAC), snapping an eight-game skid in the process.
Aupiu shined in her first start of the season, recording a match-high 38 assists and tying junior Ellie Turner with 14 digs. Senior Aliah Giroux led the team in that catagory with 16 digs on her line.
Offensively, sophomore Mia Soerensen and senior Cansu Günaydin each posted 14 kills, tying each other for the most in the match. Sophomore Caroline Krueger was not far behind, logging 12 to go with four service aces. Additionally, Senior Alicia Coppedge sent back eight of the opposition’s attacks and freshman Miranda Putnicki three.
Giroux logged back-to-back service aces, handing UTSA an early 4-1 lead to open the first set. Shortly after, a Günaydin kill and a pair of UNT miscues capped off a three-point spurt that put the Roadrunners up 10-5. The Mean Green responded, taking the next three rallies and inducing a UTSA timeout with the ‘Runners still up by two. UNT then knotted the frame at 14, but a Krueger kill and an ace for Aupiu allowed the Roadrunners to regain their advantage. The Mean Green didn’t go quietly, keeping things close before a Coppedge/Aupiu combination block secured a 25-22 win for UTSA.
UTSA was firing on all cylinders to open the second, breaking a 2-2 tie with a nine-point stretch that featured multiple Günaydin aces, as well as kills for Krueger and Soerensen. The Mean Green threatened a comeback ahead of a five-point UTSA surge that saw terminations by Krueger, Coppedge, Aupiu, and Günaydin en route to an 18-7 lead. The Roadrunners quickly put away the stanza as a block by Coppedge and Krueger cemented a 25-15 victory.
The Roadrunners again worked an early advantage with consecutive Krueger aces, putting them up 8-4. The Mean Green then snagged 10 of the subsequent 12 rallies to flip the script and earn a 14-10 lead. UNT then polished off the set, earning a 25-17 win that sent the match to a fourth set.
After a back-and-forth battle to begin the fourth, the Mean Green embarked on a four-point run to take an 11-8 lead. A termination for Krueger and a solo block for Coppedge helped tie the frame as the teams exchanged blows en route to a 15-15 score line. UNT eventually claimed the set 25-18 after scoring in each of the final six rallies.
A pair of Soerensen kills bookended a five-point run that allowed UTSA to take a 5-1 advantage to kick-start the fifth set. UNT responded, knotting the contest at six, ahead of five consecutive Roadrunner rallies that allowed UTSA to regain their edge. Now up 11-6, terminations by Coppedge, E. Turner, and Günaydin, as well as a Mean Green miscue, resulted in a 15-10 score and a victory for the Roadrunners.
UTSA will return to the Convocation Center with a pair of matches on deck against Tulane. The ‘Runners will first meet the Green Wave on Friday at 6 p.m. in an ’80s neon-themed contest, ahead of a 2 p.m. Homecoming matchup on Saturday.