LUBBOCK – The UTEP Volleyball team (6-5) defeated UIW (4-8) in five sets (23-25, 25-16, 25-27, 25-22, 16-14), 3-2, on Friday evening at United Supermarkets Arena.
The Miners are sporting their best winning percentage (.545) through 11 games since 2011.
Mallory Yost put on a career performance with a career-high 18 kills, and the third-highest hitting percentage (.593, 18-2-27) in a five-set match in UTEP history.
Redshirt freshman Kenidy Howard put on a show in her first career start. The middle blocker posted 10 kills, and led the team with nine blocks. Kristen Fritsche paced the squad in assists (32) and racked up 15 digs. Serena Patterson locked in 12 kills, and Alianza Darley and Briana Arellano each added nine to the effort.
The Miners dropped the first set, 25-23, after suffering a 6-1 run that put the frame out of reach. Yost was hyper efficient with seven kills on eight attempts in game one.
UTEP jumped all over the Cardinals to begin set two with an 11-3 run. Patterson helped put the Miners in this position with four kills. The Orange and Blue never looked back, winning the set 25-16 with a .406 hitting percentage helping them along the way.
The third set saw six ties between to the two squads. The back-and-forth action came to a head when the Miners took a 25-24 lead off of a service ace from Syenna Masaki. However, UIW would rally with three straight points to claim the frame, 27-25.
In the fourth game UTEP was facing a 20-17 deficit in what could have been the final set of the contest. The Orange and Blue utilized a 5-0 run that propelled them to victory, and forced a deciding fifth frame.
If the Miners were going to win they would have to do it from behind once again. UTEP was down 10-7, but strung together a 4-1 run that tied the set at 11-11. The Orange and Blue were one point from defeat, 14-13, but dug deep to score three straight and finish of UIW, 16-14.
“Kenidy (Howard) came in and played really well for her first start. She hit for pretty good numbers. I think she had 10 kills, blocked a few balls and played hard. We didn’t get a chance to set her enough actually. She and Mallory (Yost) were honestly a difference in the match offensively. Mallory was unstoppable offensively for four of the five sets. To get 18 kills on 26 swings was a big deal. B.A. (Briana Arellano) came in and hit .300, and played pretty dang well. She defended hard and she saved a couple points in the fifth set for us. At 13-13 we called a timeout because we got aced. At 14-13 we were tough enough to three pass and get a kill. Then we defended hard and won 16-14. We aren’t playing well right now, but at least we found a way to win. We defended really hard at the end, and for long stretches just stayed in it. We didn’t give up and we didn’t quit. We just kept plugging away. We didn’t have our best volleyball but we found a way to win, which is a sign of a quality team. I am proud of our team for pulling it off, but I am still not pleased with how we are playing right now.”
Next up, the Miners will cap off their trip to Lubbock, Texas with a pair of matches against Houston (10 a.m. MT) and Texas Tech (6 p.m. MT) tomorrow.