UTEP’s Alianza Darley | Photo by Scott Larson
UTEP volleyball (11-4, 0-2 Conference USA) suffered its second loss in conference play against (RV) Rice (8-5, 4-0 C-USA), 3-2 (27-25, 23-25, 20-25, 25-21, 10-15) Sunday.
“It was two really good teams offensively just battling each other,” head coach Ben Wallis said. “They just had a little bit too much offense for us at the end. Rice hit .344.”
The Miners had four players score double-digit kills: Ema Uskokovic (18), Serena Patterson (17), Paulina Perez Rosas (13) and Alianza Darley (12). Sophomore setter Hande Yetis set 33 assists while senior setter Kristen Fritsche recorded 28 assists. Patterson directed the defense with 16 digs while Alyssa Sianez racked up 14 digs. Perez Rosas tallied 10 digs to achieve a double-double along with Patterson.
Junior middle blocker Yasso Amin, who is currently third on the team in kills, was out with an injury during today’s match.
UTEP totaled four blocks and eight services aces. The Miners hit .301.
“I’m really proud of Serena (Patterson), she played big in two back-to-back matches,” Wallis said. “I’m really proud of Paulina (Perez Rosas) as well, she had a big comeback and decided she was going to go put up numbers and be physical.
“Ema (Uskokovic) struggled yesterday going up against a really tough, physical All-American blocker in front of her, but today she shredded 18 kills on 35 swings and hit .400 as a freshman. Today she came back and acted like the big physical kid that she can be,” Wallis said.
UTEP set the tone in the first set, opening up a 7-1 scoring run. After 14 tied scores and nine lead changes, the Owls sent the Miners into three set points where the Orange and Blue came out on top to win the set, 27-25.
The Owls rallied in the second set giving up just one lead change to the Miners. UTEP attempted to bounce back with a 5-1 scoring run, but fell short and lost the set, 25-23.
A drastic change of pace occurred in the third set as the Owls went on a 4-0 scoring run to secure the lead early on and slowed down the Miners. Rice ran with the edge over UTEP to win the set, 25-20, and took a 2-1 advantage in the match.
The Miners turned around in the fourth set gaining the lead after subbing in Ava Palm. Palm would help the team go on a 4-0 scoring run, serving bullets and scoring two service aces. UTEP won the set, 25-21.
Rice took off in the final set taking on a 6-1 scoring run. UTEP was able to tie up the score twice but were no match for the Owls’ quick conversion to win the match, 15-10.
“We walked out there and really took Jim Senter, our Athletic Director’s quote to heart. He said ‘To be great you have to beat a great team on their home court,’ and my team wanted to do that,” Wallis said. “They were ready to do that. Congrats to Rice on their victory, they earned it.”
UTEP returns to action as it hosts LA Tech Oct. 8 at 6 p.m. MT and Oct. 9 at 12 p.m. MT. Tickets are $8 and can be purchased through the Eisenberg Family Ticket Office by calling (915) 747-UTEP, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, going online or in person at 201 Glory Road (Brumbelow Building, UTEP campus) Monday thru Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Season tickets are also still on sale. Group tickets are also available for $5 (minimum of 10 tickets).