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H-P Sports In Depth: UTEP Volleyball Opens Conference Play at Home

The UTEP volleyball team will begin Conference USA play when it hosts Rice and UAB during a two-game home stand this weekend.

The Miners will host the Owls on Friday, September 22, at 6 p.m. in Memorial Gym and round out the opening weekend of conference play against UAB at noon on Sunday.

The Miners wrapped up non-conference action on Tuesday against rival NM State in Las Cruces, where the Aggies got the best of the Miners in three sets. Freshman Cheyenne Jones paced the Miner offense with eight kills, followed by Macey Austin with six and Ali Vidali with five.

Amanda King and Sahara Martinez split the setter duties, with King dishing out 14 assists and Martinez adding 10 of her own. Almost every Miner who stepped on the court recorded a dig, with Briana Arellano leading the defense with 11 while libero Niki Cebak followed with eight.

The Miners had three service aces on the day, one apiece from Mallory Yost, Arellano and Cebak and also recorded eight block assists, including two from Yost and two from Austin.

UTEP will be looking for a jump in conference standings with the opening weekend and to improve a 3-10 record. The Owls are 10-4 in non-conference action and the Blazers will put their 6-9 record on the line when it meets with Middle Tennessee on Friday prior to Sunday’s matchup.

Fans can get into Friday’s match for free if they bring a canned food.

Live stats will be available for both matches and Sunday’s match will be live streamed from Memorial Gym.


RICE Scouting Report
Series: Friday’s match will mark the 43rd meeting between the Owls and Miners, with Rice holding the all-time series lead 33-9. The two first met twice in 1983, first at the Texas Centennial Open in Austin, Texas, when the Owls beat the Miners 3-0. They met again that same year, with Rice taking the match 3-1. They last met on Oct. 23, 2016, when the Owls took a 3-1 victory in Memorial Gym.

OWL Notables
Rice is coming off a five-game winning streak, including three victories that led the Owls to the Rice Adidas Invitational title. The team leaders for the Owls include outside hitter Nicole Lennon with 214 kills and 132 digs so far this season. Lennon was also named Conference USA Freshman of the week for the second time this season as well as the MVP for the tournament after recording 20 kills or more per game and three double-doubles.

Alongside Lennon will be junior McKay Kyle with 121 kills and 32 block assists so far this season. Meanwhile, sophomore Lee Ann Cunningham, a 2016 C-USA All Freshman team performer and C-USA Defensive Player of the Year, has taken care of the defense with 283 digs so far this season. With a 10-4 record, the Owls lead conference in digs per set (17.4) as well as kills per set (13.5) are looking to showcase that when they open conference games against UTEP.

Series: Sunday’s match will be the 19th meeting between UAB and UTEP, with UAB holding 12 wins and UTEP the other six. The two first met in 2003 at the Fiesta Bowl Tournament in Flagstaff, Ariz. when the Miners ran away with the 3-2 victory. They last met on September 25, 2016 when the Miners beat the Blazers 3-2 in Birmingham, Ala.

The Blazers dropped to 6-9 after a 3-1 loss to instate rival Alabama State on Sept. 19. Prior to the setback, UAB had won three consecutive matches after a 3-8 start to the 2017 campaign. The Blazers took down Mississippi Valley State (3-0), Western Carolina (3-1) and New Orleans (3-0) during the win streak (Sept. 15-19).

Overall on the season, the Blazers rank fourth in Conference USA in team blocks per set (2.22), while ranking first in C-USA in kills (792) and third in total digs (882). The Blazers also ranks first in C-USA in assists (718). UAB ranks sixth in hitting percentage (.225) and opponent hitting percentage (.190). Senior OH Erika Zembyla ranks seventh in C-USA in aces per set (0.39), while also ranking first in conference in total service aces (22). Junior MB Victoria Young ranks sixth in C-USA with 1.06 blocks per set.

Senior OH Jared Haley leads the squad in total attacks (539), while also leading the Blazers in kills (180), points (199.0) and points per set (3.55). Freshman OPP/OH Petra Silic ranks third in C-USA with a .385 hitting percentage. The Blazers will open their C-USA slate on Sept. 22 at Middle Tennessee before taking on UTEP.

The UTEP women’s volleyball team fell to rival NM State 3-0 in the FirstLight Federal Credit Union’s Battle of I-10 at the Pan American Center in Las Cruces, N.M on Tuesday. The Miners kept it close, but the Aggies prevailed 25-19, 25-19 and 25-18. Freshman Cheyenne Jones paced the Miner offense with eight kills, followed by Macey Austin with six and Ali Vidali with five.

Amanda King and Sahara Martinez split the setter duties, with King dishing out 14 assists and Martinez adding 10 of her own. Almost every Miner who stepped on the court recorded a dig, with Briana Arellano leading the defense with 11 while libero Niki Cebak followed with eight. The Miners had three service aces on the day, one apiece from Mallory Yost, Arellano and Cebak and also recorded eight block assists, including two from Yost and two from Austin.

In total, the Miners recorded 29 kills, 26 assists, 46 digs, eight block assists, and three service aces. The Aggies notched 41 kills, 39 assists, 47 digs, 20 block assists, and four service aces.

Arellano’s all-around game
Sophomore outside hitter Briana Arellano has shown she can play all-around, picking up 11 digs against the Aggies to lead the team. It was the fourth time Arellano recorded double-digit digs in a match, with her season-high being a 14-dig performance against Portland at the Nike Invitational last weekend, and currently has 91 digs on the season. Arellano also tallied two kills and once ace.

Ali Vidali recorded a season-high five kills against NM State and also added five digs to bring her season total to 26 on the season. The sophomore outside hitter grabbed 5.5 points for the Miners during her perfomance, with the half-point coming from a block assist.

Fans can enter Friday’s match against Rice for free if they bring canned goods to donate. Friday will also be “Noche Latina” and will feature a mariachi performance and salsa dancers during the intermission between the second and third sets.

Miners Build Big Lead, Hold On To Beat Rice in C-USA Quarters 86-76

BIRMINGHAM, ALA. – UTEP played a dominant first half – racing out to a 49-29 lead – then played through a deluge of foul calls and hung on for an 86-76 victory over Rice in the C-USA Championship quarterfinals on Thursday at Legacy Arena.

The Miners (15-16) played about as well as could be over the first 20 minutes, scoring their second-most points in a half this season and shooting 61.3 percent from the field.  Rice (22-11) shot 26.7 percent and UTEP crushed the Owls on the boards, 25-13.

In the second half, a total of 34 fouls were called – 17 on both teams – and 43 free throws were shot.  Jake Flaggert, Paul Thomas, Matt Willms and Kelvin Jones all fouled out.  Thomas played 15 minutes and Willms played 10.  Ivan Venegas played a career-high nine minutes.

And through it all the Miners survived to meet top seed Middle Tennessee (28-4) in Friday’s semifinals.  The game will tip at 10:30 a.m. MT/11:30 a.m. CT and can be seen on CBS Sports Network.

Dominic Artis was simply brilliant for the Miners, scoring 26 points – a season-high – and making 10-of-13 shots.  He added 10 rebounds and six assists.  Omega Harris scored 21 points with six boards.  Willms had 10 points, six rebounds and two blocks in limited playing time.  Trey Touchet scored 10 points off the bench.

Rice was led by Marcus Evans, who scored 21 points.  But 13 of them came at the line.  Once again, the Miners held the Owls’ big three of Evans/Egor Koulechov/Marcus Jackson in check.  Combined they scored 39 points, but were 9-for-27 from the field.  Rice shot 33.9 percent from the game and finished 10-for-28 from three-point land.

“I thought D.A., Omega, Jake and Trey all did a great job of trying to close to their shooters,” UTEP coach Tim Floyd said.  “The 10-for-28 [three-point shooting] is something that we can live with in that game.  The 33 percent we gave up from the floor is why we won.

“We had a lot of things that we had to play through tonight.  Our bigs played well, they just didn’t play very long.  We had guy after guy after guy fouling out.  Four guys were out and Ivan Venegas had to play a lot of minutes.  We had guys playing minutes that hadn’t played.  I thought what kept us balanced throughout was the guard play by Dominic and Omega.  They kept us solid.  We made good decisions with the ball in our hands.  We had to play some lengthier possessions and we ended up making shots at the end of those possessions.”

The Miners jumped on the Owls early.  They scored the game’s first nine points and led 14-4 about four minutes in.  Rice battled back and when Koulechov hit two free throws with 6:25 remaining in the half, it was a 29-24 game.  UTEP closed the half with a 20-5 run and the Owls were buried, down 20.

“[The first half] was terrific.  It really was terrific,” Floyd said.  “Matt and Paul were protectors down at the rim and [the other] three guys had the job of just trying to no-catch those guys.  That put them in a drive game and might’ve had something to do with us picking up a foul or two.  But they did an excellent job of putting Evans and Jackson in situations that maybe they hadn’t been in.

“I thought what keyed it all was defensive transition in the first half, getting back and locating those guys because they’re special in that area – catch and shoot Koulechov, catch and shoot Jackson and Evans.  Our bigs did a nice job.”

With Thomas, Willms and Jones all playing five minutes or fewer in the second half, Rice was able to get back in it.  The Owls outscored UTEP 47-37 after halftime and outrebounded the much smaller Miners 20-16.  But they never could get closer than nine points.

The Miners shot 56 percent for the game.  Their 86 points bested the school C-USA Tournament record by one.  They outrebounded the Owls 41-33 and outscored them 38-14 in the paint.  In a surprise, UTEP had an 18-9 edge in bench points against the deeper Owls.

“We rebounded it tonight,” Floyd said.  “I thought Omega had a couple of back-to-back plays in the first half – a lob pass to Matt Willms for a dunk, and then one more pass on the next possession.  He caught the ball in the corner, kicked it back to Trey wide open at the wing.  I thought the whole game was good shot versus great shot, good shot versus great shot.  D.A. was excellent finishing, excellent dishing off of takes, and Omega as well.  It was guard play, and I thought our guards played as well as they have all year.”

UTEP Men’s Golf Set to Compete in Border Olympics

Fresh off its highest finish in the spring, the UTEP men’s golf team will lace up their spikes again when they travel to Laredo, Texas, to compete in the Border Olympics March 10-11.
Participants will play 36 holes on Friday and the remaining 18 holes Saturday at the Laredo Country Club (Par 72/7,125 yards). 
Last year’s Border Olympics was shortened to two rounds due to rain. Baylor took home the team title after shooting 20-under-par 556 (277-279) and Haraldur Magnus of Louisiana won the individual title at 10-under-par 134 (66-68). The Miners, who tied for 11th with ULM, shot 4-over-par 580 (300-280), with Nicklas Pihl finishing at the top of the Miners’ scorecard in a tie for 8th at 4-under 140 (74-66).
UTEP finished in fourth place in the National Invitational Tournament last week in Tucson, Ariz., Pihl was also UTEP’s top finisher in a share of 11th place. 

The Miners will compete in a 19-team field that includes Houston, Bowling Green, Campbell, Houston Baptist, Lamar, Little Rock, Louisiana-Lafayette, McNesse State, Nebraska, New Mexico State, Oral Roberts, Rice, Sacramento State, Sam Houston State, Stephen F. Austin, Texas State, ULM and UTSA. 

Now in the meat of their spring schedule, the Miners will send Frederik Dreier (73 avg.), Aaron Terrazas (71.6 avg.), Pihl (73.3 avg.), Andreas Sorensen (74.5 avg.), Charles Corner (74.6 avg.), and Prescott Mann (73.6 avg.) to the links.   

Live scoring will be available at

Border Olympics quick facts:

Date: Friday, March 10 – Saturday, March 11, 2017

Site: Laredo Country Club • Laredo, Texas (Par 72 / 7,125 Yards)

Format: 54-Hole Tournament • Two Days Friday, March 10 • 36 holes Saturday, March 11 • 18 holes


Teams: 19-Team Field • Golfstat rankings as of March 8 listed
Houston, Bowling Green, Campbell, Houston Baptist, Lamar, Little Rock, Louisiana-Lafayette, McNeese State, Nebraska,

New Mexico State, Oral Roberts, Rice, Sacramento State, Sam Houston State, Stephen F. Austin, Texas State, ULM, UTEP, UTSA

UTEP Volleyball to Host Western Kentucky and Rice

The UTEP volleyball team (4-16, 2-5 C-USA) will return to its home court this weekend to take on a pair of matches.

First, the Miners will face a battle against the top team in Conference USA, Western Kentucky (20-2, 7-0 C-USA) on Friday at 6:30 p.m. (MT) and follow that up with a match against Rice (14-8, 6-1 C-USA) on Sunday at 12 p.m. (MT). Sundaywill mark the second meeting against the Owls this season.

The Orange and Blue was out of town last weekend making its tour through Texas. On Friday (10/14), the Miners were in Denton facing a tough North Texas team at the North Texas Volleyball Center. UTEP fought to keep up but the Mean Green came out on top by sweeping the Miners (25-20, 25-21, 25-11).

After the loss at North Texas the Miners headed to San Antonio to match up against UTSA for the second time in 2016. The match was played on Sunday (10/16) at the UTSA Convocation Center this time around but the match was point for point until the very end, similar to the battle in Memorial Gym two weeks prior (10/2).

Both matches went to five sets but the Roadrunners came out with the win in both instances. In the first match, UTSA handed UTEP a 22-25, 21-25, 25-14, 25-21, 10-15 loss and in the second meeting, the Miners fell 25-23, 21-25, 23-25, 25-22, 7-15.



UTEP vs. Rice



UTEP vs. Rice:


Series: Western Kentucky leads the all-time series over the Miners with a 4-0 advantage entering Friday’s meeting. The Lady Toppers are currently 20-2 and undefeated in C-USA action (7-0).


WKU’s offense is led by Alyssa Cavanaugh, an outside hitter from Louisville, Ky. The junior has hammered a total of 350 kills on the season while hitting at an impressive .353 clip. She has been named the C-USA Offensive Player of the Week two times this season. Her other totals include 41 blocks, 40 digs and seven assists. Jessica Lucas is the starting setter for the Lady Toppers and has achieved numerous accolades of her own. Just this season, she has been honored as C-USA Setter of the Week five times in addition to earning a Co-Setter of the Week honor on Oct. 10.

The junior’s totals include 842 total assists, 191 digs, 93 kills, 52 blocks and 10 service aces. Lucas is eighth in the national rankings with 11.53 assists per set and 19th for total assists. The Lady Topper’s strongest defensive weapons are Amara Listenbee and Georgia O’Connell. Listenbee is a sophomore middle blocker out of Beloit, Wis. Who has a team-leading 76 blocks (20s/56a) on the season. O’connell serves as a defensive specialist on the squad and paces the team with 312 digs and adds 17 service aces.


Series: The Miners are 9-34 against the Owls and this will be the second matchup between the teams this season. The last meeting took place on Sept. 23 in Houston, where the Owls defeated UTEP in a five-set thriller.



Rice’s offense is led by Chelsey Harris and Madison McDaniel. Harris is an outside hitter out of Houston, Texas who paces the team with 292 kills while hitting at a .319 clip. McDaniel is from The Woodlands, Texas and serves as the starting setter for the Owls. The junior has tallied a total of 869 assists this season and is second on the team with 265 digs. McDaniel was awarded the C-USA Setter of the Week honor on Oct. 17.

On defense, Rice is led by defensive specialist Lee Ann Cunningham and middle blocker Portia Okafor. Cunningham is a Louisville, Ky. native, who has accumulated 340 digs while adding 92 assists and 17 service aces. Okafor was also honored by the league this week by being named the C-USA Defensive Player of the Week (Oct. 17). The Lewisville, Texas native has blocked her opponents 102 times (29s/73a) this season and is second in the league in blocks per set (1.07).


This year’s Miner squad has a mix of youth and experience as the newcomers are providing impact along with the veteran members of the team. Freshmen Macey Austin has seen action in 68 sets, Briana Arellano in 64, Niki Cebak has participated in 62 sets and Ali Vidali has played in 35. Newcomer Amanda King is the only newcomer this season who has taken the court in all 75 sets this season.


UTEP’s matches against North Texas and UTSA last weekend completed the first half the C-USA season for the Miners, leaving seven conference matches left on the schedule. UTEP will host conference opponents for four of the seven remaining league matches while they will hit the road for three contests away from home against Louisiana Tech, Middle Tennessee and Marshall. Conference play will wrap up in the Cam Henderson Center against Marshall on Nov. 10.


UTEP’s freshmen have been making quite the splash in its first weeks of action. Macey Austin leads the UTEP pack with a team-best 175 kills while adding 28 digs, 18 blocks, two service aces and an assist on the season. Ali Vidali follows in suit. Her totals include, 67 kills, 29 digs, four blocks, three assists and two service aces. Briana Arellano has also proved to be force on the court with 145 digs, 43 kills, 15 service aces, five blocks and five assists. Niki Cebak has also made contributions of her own with 91 total digs, 11 service aces and 13 assists.



Canada is well represented on the Miners’ squad this season. Three athletes (Lindsey Larson, Ashley Grzebeniak and Niki Cebak) on the roster are natives of the country and have made a tremendous impact since their arrival at UTEP.  Lindsey Larson is a product of Humboldt, Saskatchewan and is the Orange and Blue’s strongest weapon with 2016 totals including a team-best in assists (369) and service aces (17).

She owns a second-best team ranking in digs (208), kills (160) and total blocks (64). Sophomore Ashley Grzebeniak is from Winnipeg, Manitoba and provides the Miners with a powerful swing. She has racked up a total of 85 kills, 59 digs, 15 blocks (1s/14a), four service aces and two assists so far this season.

Redshirt freshman Niki Cebak is the final Canada representative from Airdrie, Alberta. The defensive specialist has a petite appearance, but has shown to have a powerful swing from the serving line with 11 service aces this season. Cebak’s other totals include 91 digs and 13 assists.


Setter Lindsey Larson has made it a habit to reach double-digits in various categories in UTEP’s matches. She has reached a double-double in 13 of the Miners’ matches so far this season, which include five triple-doubles. She is second in conference in total double-doubles but she is the only one in the league to reach a triple-double. Amanda King is second on the team with a total of five double-doubles and Ashley Grzebeniak has notched one on the season.


Sophomore Kylie Baumgartner has been a force at the net all season and leads the squad with a total of 75 blocks (10s/65a), which is more than she registered in the entire 2015 season (51 total blocks). She currently ranks seventh in Conference USA with 1.03 blocks per set.

The California native, matched her career-high 10 blocks in a 3-2 win over UAB (9/25), which places her third in the league for most blocks in a five-set match.



UTEP has the most depth in the outside position with a total of six outside hitters. The Miners returned Ashley Grzebeniak who brings a year of experience. Ali Vidali is a redshirt freshman who sat out the 2015 season due to a wrist injury. Vidali is joined by El Paso native Briana Arellano and Macey Austin from Fort Worth, Texas who bring tremendous size and power as incoming freshmen.


At the middle blocker position, the Miners returned senior Tatum Winter and sophomores Kylie Baumgartner and Maddie Morgan. Baumgartner was named to the C-USA All-Freshman team in 2015 after tallying 128 total blocks, 165 kills and 20 digs in her breakout season.


Senior setter Lindsey Larson is a key cornerstone as a six-rotation player. In 2015, she led the team with 1,064 assists and 35 service aces while finishing second in digs (369) and blocks (11s/93a). Larson not only works hard on the court but on her studies as well. She is a four-time member of the C-USA Commissioner’s Honor Roll, three-time C-USA Commissioner’s Academic Medalist and a two-time C-USA All-Academic Team selection. Junior transfer Amanda King will also bring depth at the setter position this season.


On defense, UTEP returned Sarah Villa, an El Paso native who was the starting libero for the majority of the 2015 season. As a junior, Villa set the C-USA record for digs in an individual match with 45 in a five-set battle against Southern Miss. The Miners also have Dania Orozco and Niki Cebak. Orozco is also from El Paso but played two years at New Mexico Military Institute as the libero.


Lindsey Larson is one of four in the nation with five or more triple-doubles this season and is the only one in C-USA to reach one. Larson notched her first triple-double of her career as she led the UTEP squad to a 3-1 victory over Bradley (9/3). She totaled 25 assists, 17 digs and 10 kills while adding four blocks and a service ace. She recorded two more at the UT-Arlington Invitational.

Against Samford (9/16), the senior notched 22 assists, 13 kills, 11 digs and three blocks and versus UT-Arlington (9/17) her totals included 27 assists, 11 digs and 10 kills. In the league opener (9/23), Larson totaled 22 assists, 18 digs and 12 kills while forcing Rice to five sets. In the victory over UAB (9/25), she recorded a career-high in digs and blocks with 28 and eight, respectively and added 10 kills and three service aces.


The Miners have made their way back into the national rankings in various categories this season. According to the NCAA rankings that were updated on Oct. 18, Sarah Villa is 12th in the nation with 5.23 digs per set.

Lindsey Larson also cracks the national rankings as she is tied for third in the nation for total triple-doubles. Larson has registered a total of five triple-doubles on the season, trailing the top spot by only two.

Sophomore Maddie Morgan had an outstanding performance in a 3-1 victory over South Dakota State (9/3) in the preseason. She notched a .700 clip on 14 kills and is tied for the 13th spot for hitting percentage in a single match.

Miners beat Rice 24 to 21; Bowl hopes still alive

It was supposed to be a rerun Friday night, with UTEP entering the game having lost eight of the past nine meetings against Rice. But the Miners had one thing on their minds: Outlast the Owls; and that they did – for the first time since Oct. 9 2010 –  defeating Rice 24 to 21.

With the game tied at 21, just over eight minutes left to play and Rice driving into UTEP territory, Rice’s Driphus Jackson pass was tipped and nearly intercepted on a third down play by UTEP defensive back Michael Lewis.

On the ensuing field-goal attempt, Nick Usher blocked it to keep the game tied at 21 with 8 minutes, 13 seconds left to play.

Rice at UTEP-31That’s when running back, Jeremiah Laufasa led the Miners drive spanning 7 minutes, 25 seconds and setting up a Jay Mattox 24-yard field goal for the go-ahead 24-21 lead.

“It just gives us more confidence to be able to have a drive like that where we can just run it whenever we wanted to, getting big chunks in the run game and to control the clock like that at the end of the game was huge. Especially as a confidence builder,” quarterback Mack Leftwich said.

Laufasa finished the night with 15 carries for 92 yards and a touchdown after fellow back, LaQuintus Dowell left the game due to leg injury.

After a scoreless first quarter, both the Miners and the Owls exchanged touchdowns with the Miners tying the game a 14 in the final seconds of the first half.

A pair of touchdown passes from Leftwich to Jaquan White in the first half kept the UTEP chances alive. Leftwich finished the night with 231 passing yards, completing 18 of 36 attempts with the two scores, while being protected by an offensive line that didn’t allow a single sack.

“It’s nice that they have confidence in me to throw the ball down the field. There were a couple of throws that I wish I had back and I feel like I should have made,” Leftwich said. “Overall, I thought we did a decent job in the passing game and were successful on some of the shots.”

UTEP once again faced a 4th and 1 as they did against Florida Atlantic, and were faced to make a decision on whether to punt or attempt to convert, Laufasa got the call gaining 19 yards to set up the Miners in scoring position.

“That just means coach [Sean] Kugler has a lot of trust in me and the o-line, the receivers blocking on the perimeter. I really appreciate that,” Laufasa said. “That’s a real boost in confidence, when we’re back up in our territory and coach still trusts you to get that first down.”

Laufasa credited the offensive line, stating that they don’t get the “glory” they deserve.

The Miners took their first lead of the game after two-yard touchdown run from Laufasa with 8:24 left in the third quarter.

The Owls tied the game in the closing seconds of the third quarter after Jackson hit Luke Turner on a corner route for a 23-yard touchdown pass.

Rice at UTEP-37With the win the Miners advance to 4-5 on the season, while dropping Rice to the same record, but now hold the head-to-head tiebreaker. With three game remaining in the season, UTEP’s bowl eligible hopes remain alive, with the target number of wins being at six.

“We’re not dead yet and our kids know that. They want to go to a bowl game,” Kugler said. “We have to get two of the next three to be bowl eligible and our kids are going to go fight to do that. They want to go to the bowl game, the seniors want to finish strong. Regardless on how the season’s gone, I’m very proud of this team.”

Next up for the Miners is a trip to Norfolk, Virginia to take on Old Dominion on Nov. 14 before returning home for their final home game of the season Nov. 21 against Louisiana Tech.

“That was a must-win game for us really. Now that we got the win, we have another good team in Old Dominion,” Leftwich said. “We have to be ready to play and hopefully get a win.”

Rice upends UTEP in 3 sets; Miners now prep for Aggies

The Miners fell to Rice, 3-0 (21-25, 18-25, 19-25) on Sunday in Memorial Gym. UTEP is now 7-15 overall and 1-7 in C-USA action.

Senior Talia Jones led the Miners’ offense as she hammered 12 kills, two digs and two blocks. Junior Lindsey Larson registered 23 assists, seven digs, six blocks, three kills and two service aces. UTEP’s defense was led by libero Sarah Villa who secured 16 digs.

The squads opened the match exchanging point for point as they tied six times with two lead changes. A kill by Madison McDaniel triggered a 5-1 run by the Owls claiming the first set 25-21.

Both teams went back and forth tying the score eight times in the second frame. However, four consecutive kills gave the Owls a 17-13 lead and never looked back. Rice took the second set 25-18 and gained a 2-0 match lead going into intermission.

Rice would go on to take the third set, 25-19 as it held UTEP to a .000 hitting percentage.

“I think as a whole we are still making strides. I hate that it is the middle of October and we are still calling ourselves young. We don’t want to do that,” said head coach Holly Watts. “It is still a process of chemistry and everything but we need to continue to try and get it all together.”

UTEP volleyball will take on I-10 rival NM State at 7 p.m. (MT) in Las Cruces, N.M. on Tuesday.

Author: UTEP Athletics

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