File photo by Ruben R. Ramirez | UTEP
UTEP volleyball (4-4, 3-2 C-USA) fell in five sets to North Texas (5-6, 2-3 C-USA), 3-2 (24-26, 25-21, 25-27, 25-18, 12-15), Sunday afternoon in the North Texas Volleyball Center.
The Miners put together their most kills through four sets all season: 17, 17, 19 and 18, but hit only six in the final set.
UTEP finished the match with 77 kills at a .291 hitting percentage compared to North Texas’s 51 at .221. UTEP scored 92 points, 23 more than North Texas.
The Miners also finished with 75 assists – their most in five sets since 2003 against Tulsa – compared to the Mean Green’s 45. And, according to head coach Ben Wallis, UTEP would have had more assists and kills more if it hadn’t been called for ten double hit violations.
“You look at the numbers here and you take 10 points away from my team and you give them to the other side, and you don’t see the factor where (North Texas is) earning (the points), that has a massive effect on the win and the loss here,” Wallis said. “I’m really frustrated about that.
“It was two good teams really battling it out, but I’m really disappointed that we were unable to play the game we wanted to play. Instead, factors outside of our control took points away from my team and that’s really disappointed.”
Freshman Hande Yetis led the team with 35 assists and junior Kristen Fritsche was second with 30.
The Miners had four players finish with double-digit kills: Cheyenne Jones with 22 (her most since Nov. 3, 2019 vs. Southern Miss), Serena Patterson with 16, Paulina Perez Rosas with 13 and Alianza Darley with 11. They combined to hit at a .364 clip.
“I’m really proud of the offensive numbers we put out there,” Wallis said.
The Mean Green took a 9-3 advantage to start the first set and, at one point, had the set point on the line up 24-19. But the Miners put together a 5-0 rally with freshman outside hitter Ava Palm at the service line to even the score at 24-24.
Palm entered today’s match leading Conference USA in service aces (11) and dealt two in UTEP’s final five points of the set before the Mean Green ultimately won the opening frame, 26-24. Palm finished the match with three aces.
UTEP maintained a three-point lead throughout the majority of the second set. The closest the Mean Green came to overtaking the Miners was when they were down, 16-15. UTEP proceeded to go on a 5-1 run and didn’t look back, winning the second frame, 25-21.
After the Miners lost the third set, 27-25, Cheyenne Jones powered home eight of her 22 kills in the fourth set with an .800 hitting percentage to force a fifth.
In the fifth set, however, UTEP recorded as many attack errors as kills (6). North Texas also recorded as many attack errors as kills (5). With the score at 12-10 in favor of the Mean Green, Patterson was called for the Miners’ tenth ball handling error of the match which gave North Texas a three-point advantage which they rode to victory on.
Up next, UTEP volleyball looks to split its season series with North Texas tomorrow at 12 p.m. MT in the North Texas Volleyball Center.