An unusual five-month off-season comes to an end on Friday, Aug. 27, when North Texas opens the regular season with three games in the North Texas Invite.
The Mean Green returned 12 letter winners from a team that went 11-11 overall and 6-6 in Conference USA action last year. Three headliners return with the team, a group formed by graduate student Kaleigh Skopal, along with seniors Sarah Haeussler i Rhett Robinson.
Robinson enters the 2021 campaign with 996 deaths in the race, just four shy of the 1,000-dead milestone. She led Mean Green with 352 deaths in 2020-2021, was second on the block team with 76 and was named First Team All-Conference USA.
Skopal, who returned to the North Texas captain last season after a tough battle with Guillain Barre Syndrome, led Mean Green in assists with 785. He was one of two players to appear in the 83rd. sets from last season and was two-time setter of the week at Conference USA.
Haeussler appeared in every game except one game last season and was a vital part of Mean Green’s defense, with 83 high caps from the team. This proved to be the second best place in Conference USA, and he also led the conference in block assists with 77. Haeussler also did not shy away from the offense, recording a maximum run of 139 kills.
North Texas also returns two more key defensive players. Senior red t-shirt Henrianna Ibarra returns to lead the Mean Green with 273 excavations last season. Just behind her with 221 excavations is Aleeya Galdeira, who is back in her junior campaign.
As hosts of the North Texas Invite, Mean Green will play Friday against McNeese State and South Dakota State and close out the tournament on Saturday against Grambling State. The tournament is the first of four that North Texas will play before the conference game opens on Sept. 25.