Mallory Yost and Kristen Fritsche | Photo courtesy UTEP
Mallory Yost led UTEP Volleyball (13-12, 6-6) past North Texas (15-10, 9-4) in four sets (26-24, 21-25, 25-16, 25-16), 3-1, with nine kills and seven blocks on Sunday afternoon at Memorial Gym.
Yost locked in a scorching hot .571 hitting percentage and a season-high seven blocks, helping the Miners inch closer to its first Conference USA Tournament berth since 2016.
The Orange and Blue currently sit in sole possession of seventh place in the league. With a victory in either of their last two matches, UTEP will officially punch its ticket to Houston, Texas.
This is the first time since 2013 where the Miners have had two three-match winning streaks in the same season.
North Texas had been an incredibly efficient offensive team, hitting .233 as a squad this year. UTEP held the Mean Green to just .112 in that department, due in part to the stellar blocking and strong play from Erika Sianez at libero. UTEP also erased North Texas’s hopes of having an undefeated road record in conference play.
Kristen Fritsche produced a double-double for the Miners with a team-high 22 assists and 11 digs. Kenidy Howard tallied nine kills, and had three blocks. Cheyenne Jones added nine kills in just 21 swings, and also helped out with two blocks. Serena Patterson notched a team-high 10 kills.
The first set against the Mean Green was a highly contested affair. There were 15 ties in the frame and seven lead changes. The two squads were locked up at 24-24, when Yost and Patterson broke the tie with a vicious block. Anamarija Mikovic earned the set for the Miners with an ace on the very next serve, 26-24.
The Mean Green got the better of UTEP in the next game, winning the set 25-21 to even up the set count, 1-1.
However, the Orange and Blue did not allow North Texas to build any momentum off of that victory. They would claim the next two frames in convincing fashion with a pair of 25-16 wins.
Coach Wallis’s Thoughts:
“You know I am extremely proud of my team again for the effort they showed. We executed against a team that has two of the best arms in the conference. Valerian is probably an All-American, because she has the ability to go up over the top of you. She got 26 of their points on her own. She is a complete stud, but the fact of the matter is that we held her in check when we needed to. We made some big digs on bombs from her. I had enough faith in our kids that we could wear her out by digging her attacks. Mallory (Yost) was a beast again. Serena (Patterson) wasn’t playing very well offensively, but then she just got hot. She stayed emotionally in it, which we have been working on with her. I am extremely proud of my team and I am going to enjoy it with these guys.”
Next up, the Miners will play at Charlotte on Thursday, November 14 at 4 p.m. MT.
Miner Match Notes
>> Most conference victories since 2013 (seven)
>> First time the Miners have had two three-match winning streaks in the same season since 2013