Photo by Ruben R. Ramirez
EDINBURG, Texas – The UTEP volleyball team (11-2) topped UTRGV, 3-1 (20-25, 25-19, 25-23, 26-24) Thursday to achieve its best start in program history.
Two Miners accomplished career-high kills: Yasso Amin (15) and Kenidy Howard (13).
The Miners had three players hit double-digit kills: Amin (15), Howard (13) and Paulina Perez Rosas (10). Hande Yetis led the team with three aces and 28 assists. Perez Rosas recorded 17 digs for a double-double while Alyssa Sianez tallied 12 digs.
The Miners achieved a season-high of 13 blocks with their second-most assists (61) on the campaign.
“The match was sloppy on both ends because we were really bringing it at each other,” head coach Ben Wallis said. “UTRGV passed it very well, especially in the first set, they were better at assisting than we were. We were whacking the ball out of bounds all over the place again and not taking the right swings, and then we got tentative.
“That changed in the second set where we just started going bigger and being more physical,” Wallis said. “When we’re being physical, we’re at our best. Even in the third and fourth set, we were pretty high error again, but continued to find ways to keep being physical and that’s what won us the match.”
UTRGV set the tone in the first set, rolling out multiple scoring runs to take the lead. The Vaqueros ran with the edge over the Miners and came out on top, 25-20.
A quick change of pace occurred for UTEP as it rallied in the second set with a 7-1 scoring run at the start. UTEP jumped ahead of the competition and would go on a 10-1 scoring run. The efforts landed the Miners on the board with a set win, 25-19.
Both teams turned the heat up for the third set as they recorded 11 tied scores and five lead changes. The Miners arrived at set point with a three-point margin, but the Vaqueros continued to fight. UTEP would go on to win the set, 25-23, and take a 2-1 advantage in the match.
Similarly, the final set had another intense exchange of points with four lead changes. UTRGV sent UTEP into two set points where the Orange and Blue came out victorious over the Vaqueros, winning the match, 26-24.
“We did a lot of things wrong, but we also did a lot of things right,” Wallis said. “I’m glad we got this nonconference match in before Rice because it tested us and it was an intense environment.”
UTEP will be back in action for its Conference USA opener with Rice in Houston, Texas, on Oct. 2 at 12 p.m. MT and Oct. 3 at 11 a.m. MT. The match-up will be streamed on CUSA.tv, with live stats available.