Photo courtesy Marcus Sarate-TAMCC
The UTEP volleyball team (10-2) will travel to Edinburg, Texas, to play its last preseason match against UTRGV (8-4) at 6 p.m. MT Thursday (Sept. 23).
The Miners have yet again equaled their best record (10-2) through 12 matches in program history. UTEP was previously 10-2 in 2005.
“I’m looking forward to getting in our last nonconference match in the books Thursday against a good and really improved UTRGV team,” head coach Ben Wallis said. “They had a rough year last year, but Todd (Lowery) is a really good coach and he’s got a really exciting team.
“They’ve got a player on their team, Sarah Cruz, who is capable of winning the match on her own,” Wallis said. “She’s going to give us trouble. However, I think we match up with them pretty well because we serve it pretty tough, we pass it well and we have four or five dangerous attackers.”
Hitting With Consistency
UTEP has hit better than .250 in six straight matches and eight times total on the season. The opposition has only surpassed .250 twice in 12 contests on the campaign. Vittoria Price (.416) leads the team among players with at least 10 kills.
The Miners recorded at least 10 blocks in two matches last weekend, accomplishing it vs. Texas State (Sept. 17) and at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (Sept. 17). They had done so three times over the first nine matches. Alianza Darley (45), Vittoria Price (35) and Ema Uskokovic (31) all have recorded at least 30 total blocks to set the tone for the Orange and Blue.
- UTEP is 2-0 on the season when coming off a loss, winning both ensuing matches by a score of 3-1.
- The Miners are undefeated (3-0) on the year when going to five sets.
- UTEP is halfway to 20 wins on the season, something it hasn’t achieved since 2005 (21-10).
On offense, the Miners have two triple-digit kill players leading the way:
Serena Patterson (153 kills, 3.33 kills/set) and Yasso Amin (104 kills, 2.31 kills/set). Patterson reached a career-high of 23 kills against Tarleton State at the Islanders Classic on Sept. 18. Another dynamic duo on the offense, assist leader Kristen Fritsche has racked up 277 assists (6.02 assists/set) while Hande Yetis is set in with 124 assists (4.96 assists/set). Fritsche is also the top scorer in service aces (18). Following Fritsche’s lead, the Miners have four other double-digit players in service aces: Ryley Frye (16), Patterson (13), Alyssa Sianez (13) and Yetis (11). Looking out on the defense, Sianez tops the team with 188 digs (4.09 digs/set).
UTRGV is 8-4 on the year, is riding a three-match win streak and has now won six of its last seven matches. The Vaqueros swept all three matches last weekend at East Carolina’s Pirate Invitational in Greenville, N.C. They came out victorious over Appalachian State, host East Carolina, and Gardner-Webb.
The program is led offensively by Sarah Cruz (168 kills, 4.20 kills/set), Veronika Jandova (104 kills, 2.36 kills/set), and freshman setter Luanna Emiliano (424 assists, 9.64 assists/set). Emiliano sets the tone for the team defensively with 153 digs (3.48 digs/set). She is also ranked second in service aces (15) right behind teammate Luisa Silva Dos Santos (17). Jandova is the top scorer in blocks (40).
The Series vs. UTRGV
UTEP is 1-0 against UTRGV, with the lone meeting back in 2016.
“They are a region opponent and I’m looking forward to our match-up Thursday night,” Wallis said. “If we play similar volleyball and can deal with the good crowd that they’re going to have, then we’re going to give ourselves a chance to come out of there with a victory.”
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