The UTEP Volleyball team will do a tour of Florida this weekend when they travel to the Sunshine State take on FIU and Florida Atlantic in the final Conference USA road trip of the season.
The Miners (5-19, 2-9 C-USA) will take on the Panthers (3-14, 2-8 C-USA) on Friday at 5 p.m. MT in Miami and close out with a 10 a.m. MT Sunday match up against the Owls (15-7, 6-4 C-USA) in Boca Raton.
Though they split last weekend’s home matches, the highlight was the Miners blanking Middle Tennessee for their second conference win and sweep of the season. The Miners did not allow the Blue Raiders to reach 20 points in any set, taking the match 25-19, 25-16 and 25-14 on Senior Day for UTEP upperclassmen Amanda King and Dania Orozco.
On Friday, they kept pace, but fell to LA Tech 3-1. The Miners stopped a potential sweep by the Lady Techsters by getting a 25-23 set three win, but LA Tech took the match 25-22, 25-29, 23-25, 25-22 to down the Orange and Blue.
The UTEP offense was manned by Macey Austin, Mallory Yost and Kylie Baumgartner with 25, 20, and 13 kills respectively, on the weekend while defensive efforts were run by Ashley Grzebeniak with 20 digs, as well as Yost and Baumgartner with a combined 17 blocks.
The Miners will be on the hunt for their third and fourth conference wins and competing to return to the Conference USA Tournament. The Panthers are 10th in league standings while the Owls are fifth. Last season, the Miners beat both Florida schools to help them make the tournament.
Both of UTEP’s weekend matches in Florida will be live streamed through CUSA.tv, which requires a paid subscription.
FIU Scouting Report
Series: Friday’s match will mark the fifth meeting between FIU and UTEP, with the Miners holding the 3-1 advantage in the all-time series. They first met in 2013 in Memorial Gym, with the Miners blanking the Panthers 3-0. They last met in 2016, where UTEP again took the match in Memorial Gym 3-2. The Panthers are 3-14 overall and 2-8 in league play.
FIU is coming off a three set win against Bethune-Cookman (25-13, 25-23, 25-19) to improve their record to 9-19 overall, 3-11 in Conference USA. Senior Taija Thomas led the Panthers offense with a career-high 18 kills (.667) with no errors and chipped in with two blocks. Behind Thomas was sophomore Sidney Henderson clinching a career-high in kills with 13.
FIU hit a season-best .353 in the match against BCU. The Panthers also recorded a 73 percent side-out mark during the showing. On the defensive side, junior Margherita Bianchin and sophomore libero Helene Thelle led the team with 13 and 11 digs, respectively.
The Panthers are ranked fourth in C-USA for digs with 920 (14.84), while sophomore Thelle is ranked fifth in the league with 228 (3.68).
FLORIDA ATLANTIC SCOUTING REPORT
Series: Sunday’s match will be the fifth meeting between the Owls and Miners. Both will be playing for the all-time series lead, which is currently tied 2-2. They first met in 2013 in El Paso, when the Miners swept the Owls.
They last met in 2016, where UTEP took the 3-2 win in Memorial Gym. The Owls are 15-7 overall and 6-4 in C-USA play.
FAU clinched its fifth-consecutive win after defeating Marshall in three-straight sets (25-15, 25-20, 25-23) to improve to a 6-4 record in Conference USA and a 15-7 overall record. Freshman Sydney Nemtuda led the Owls offensively with 18 kills and adding three blocks. Alongside Nemtuda was junior Abbi Reid, who registered 10 kills and two blocks to secure the win.
Meanwhile on the defensive side, junior libero Alex Cardona tallied 14 digs to lead the team. Cardona is ranked third in C-USA for digs with 317 (4.17). Setter Ivone Martinez dished out 43 assists and 11 digs to notch her eight double-double of the season.
Martinez is ranked as the C-USA leader in assists with 866 (12.74) to help facilitate the Owls’ attack and lead them to a pair of sweeps against FIU and Marshall. Sophomore outside hitter Sigourney Kame is also ranked amongst the top players in the league (third) with 294 kills (3.92) this season. FAU not only leads C-USA in kills with 1,157 (15.03), but also rates first in assists with a 14.42 percentage.
After not allowing Middle Tennessee to score 20 points in any frame, the Miners earned their second sweep of the season, making quick work of the Blue Raiders 25-19, 25-16, 25-14 in Memorial Gym. The team’s last sweep came on Sept. 9 against Delaware State during the Borderland Invitational. UTEP’s hard-hitting offense coupled with an effective defensive effort helped them to the win.
Mallory Yost and Macey Austin paced the UTEP offensive with nine kills each while Cheyenne Jones notched seven kills at a .500 clip.
Senior Amanda King dished out 32 assists to set up the offense. Defensively, Ashley Grzebeniak led the team with nine digs, while Briana Arellano added eight of her own. Kylie Baumgartner was a force at the net, notching the team’s lone solo block while also teaming up for four block assists to stop the Blue Raider offense and keep them at a .080 hitting percentage.
FRIDAY NIGHT FALTER
A third set comeback was highlighted by a combined 10 kills from Macey Austin, Briana Arellano and Kylie Baumgartner for a 25-23 set victory, but the Miners fell to LA Tech in four sets on Friday at Memorial Gym. The Lady Techsters took sets one and two (25-22, 25-19) before the Miners got the third set victory from six kills from Austin and three apiece from Arellano and Baumgartner. LA Tech would go on to take set four (25-22) and the match 3-1.
Austin earned her 10th double-digit kill match in a row after hammering 16 kills to lead the team, while freshman Mallory Yost was close behind her with 11 kills of her own. Yost also had a team-high five blocks, including a solo block, and a career-high four digs.
Arellano and Baumgartner each had eight kills, while Arellano also recorded eight digs and two service aces and Baumgartner tallied four block assists. Amanda King notched 38 assists and Ashley
Grzebeniak paced the Miner defense with 11 digs. Dania Orozco led the team with three service aces and picked up five digs.
YOST, AUSTIN HEAD DEPARTMENT OF OFFENSE
Rookie Mallory Yost and sophomore Macey Austin paced the UTEP offensive in their team’s rout of Middle Tennessee with nine kills each. Yost was hitting at a blistering .500 clip, while Austin, who was held to single-digit kills for the first time since Sept. 19, was hitting at a .400 percentage.
Cheyenne Jones also put in work for the offense, notching seven kills at a .500 clip. The Miners hit at their second season-best percentage of .338 with 36 kills and only ten errors, while the Blue Raiders hit at a .080 percentage. Austin continues to lead the Miner offense this season, breaking the 300-kill mark after posting 25 kills on the weekend for a season total of 315. Jones is second on the list with 167.
As a team, the Miners have totaled 1,023 kills on the season.
RETURN TO THE SUNSHINE STATE
UTEP will return to Florida for the first time since 2015, when they dropped both matches against FIU and Florida Atlantic in three sets. When the Florida conference schools came to the Lone Star State last season, the Miners notched five set victories over both teams in Memorial Gym.
YOU GOT SERVED
UTEP broke the century mark for aces recorded with 110 this season. Briana Arellano paces the Miners with 24 service aces, while Niki Cebak is close behind with 22 this season.