The buzz of a fan-filled College Park Center muffled the sounds of players warming up for the first time since the pandemic began.
Volleyball head coach J.T. Wenger said the feeling was electric from fans on Friday, especially with the team only having had three practices inside College Park Center during the summer.
UTA began their eight-game home stretch at the UTA Classic on Friday. The Mavericks faced the University of Tulsa, who began their season after the cancellation of their tournament last weekend.
The Mavericks continued the UTA Classic on Saturday with a doubleheader facing Sam Houston State University and the University of North Texas.
Game 1: Tulsa 3, UTA 1
After going down 2-0 against the Golden Hurricanes, the Mavericks responded in the third set, winning 25-19.
Momentum seemed to be on the Mavericks' side after they started the fourth set with a 14-9 lead, but Tulsa did not let up, going on a 11-2 run to regain a 20-16 lead. UTA went on a 4-0 run of their own to tie the set up, but Tulsa made more plays and went on to win the set 25-22.
Freshman Monica LaFleur set a personal record in kills with 12. It is her second double-digit kill performance of the season, with the previous being against Abilene Christian University on Aug. 27.
“She’s done a really nice job. She sponges up information, she is very methodical in her approach to the game and her demeanor in general is very focused,” Wenger said.
Game 2: Sam Houston State 3, UTA 2
Set one was a battle between the Mavericks and Bearkats, going back and forth before UTA went on to win the set 25-22.
Sam Houston responded, winning back-to-back sets, scoring 25-14 in the second and 25-18 in the third.
Down 2-1 heading into the fourth set, the Mavericks needed to pull off a win to keep their hopes of winning their first game of the season alive. Much like the first set, both teams were battling, starting the set off with a 5-all tie. UTA found a way to stretch their lead to 10-5 after going on a scoring run. The Bearkats attempted a comeback and came close, tying the game at 22-all, but the Mavericks won the set 25-22 after going on a 3-0 run.
In a decisive fifth set the Mavericks and Bearkats were tied at 10-all late in the set, but UTA was unable to close the set out and allowed Sam Houston to end the match on a 4-0 run to win the set 15-12.
Junior outside hitter Brooke Townsend led the Mavericks in kills with 18 in game two.
Game 3:North Texas 3, UTA 1
North Texas took command of the match early, winning the first two sets, with a 25-19 victory in the first set and scoring 25-21 in the second.
The Mavericks responded with a 27-25 victory in the third set.
UTA began the fourth set ahead 9-4 before North Texas cut the lead to 12-9. From that point, the Mavericks would be outscored 16-7 to lose the third set, 25-19.
Freshman outside hitter Brianna Ford led the Mavericks in kills with 14.
“As a team, we’re still developing an identity. I think we’re still developing roles, and I think as we get more confident in those things, a lot of those jitters and those in-between balls will be few and far between,” Wenger said.
The Mavericks will stay in Arlington for the next series against McNeese State University starting at 10:30 a.m. Friday at College Park Center. The second game of Friday’s doubleheader will begin at 2:30 p.m.