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Home | Tag Archives: utep volleyball

Tag Archives: utep volleyball

UTEP Volleyball emphasizes efficiency, effort in first practice of 2019 season

The UTEP volleyball team engaged in its first practice of the 2019 season on Saturday morning at Memorial Gym.

Head coach Ben Wallis is entering his 12th season coaching Division I collegiate volleyball, and his first leading the Miners. Wallis has seen many first practices, and understands these days come with an extraordinary amount of excitement for the staff and team. However, even he was surprised by the enthusiasm that was brought to the court in the initial practice.

“It was pleasantly surprising,” Wallis said. “I thought everybody was really excited. I think that is natural, but even still some teams in some years you have to get them to be excited the first day, and these guys were ready to roll. They were pumped about being here. They were amped up, and paying attention to detail pretty early. I think they are excited about the year and excited about learning, so that was a really good sign.”

Coach Wallis and staff made it a point on day one to preach the mindset of being relentless, and beating every team they play in the category of effort.

“There is a real need for our team to be the hardest playing, most relentless team in our conference, in order for us to beat some of the teams we are going to play,” Wallis noted. “I think we can out play people just by pure unadulterated effort. We could lead the conference in effort if we wanted to. That is why we started out with some of the effort drills that we did, to set the tone. We are going to play harder than everybody. We will put the people on the floor that will play harder than everybody. It’s a message I wanted to send quickly.”

The Miners are also maintaining a focus on improving their offensive and defensive efficiency. Last year’s squad struggled on both sides of the court, resulting in a five-win season. The first-year head coach understands the need for improvement, and when asked on what the focus is heading into the season he had a short and simple answer: “Scoring.”

“This team was dead last in the conference in offensive efficiency, being able to score,” Wallis emphasized. “They were also second-to-last in defensive efficiency. So they didn’t stop anybody and they didn’t score enough. For us, we really want to raise our offensive efficiency to a place where we can compete with the top teams in our conference. If we do that we will be able to win matches against low-RPI teams that maybe we aren’t expected to right now.”

The Orange and Blue’s first bit of action will come on August 17th at 2 p.m., in Memorial Gym. This will mark the inaugural “Meet the Miners” event, where fans can come watch UTEP in an intrasquad scrimmage. Fans can come interact with the new staff and players, as well as pick up a team poster.

For complete coverage of UTEP Volleyball, be sure to follow the Miners on social media at @UTEPVB (Instagram) and @UTEP_VB (Twitter) or visit the official home of UTEP Athletics at UTEPMiners.com.

Fans can meet new-look Miners at the UTEP Volleyball Showcase

The UTEP volleyball team will host an intrasquad ‘Orange and Navy’ scrimmage on August 17 at 2 p.m. in Memorial Gym.

“Our Orange and Navy Scrimmage should be a competitive and exciting glimpse into the 2019 season,” Wallis said. “We have a large roster that has several new faces after bringing in 10 new players to our team. All of the players we’ve added to the roster bring unique talents that complement each other. There will be competition at every position in our gym every day in practice, and that will make life hard on me when constructing lineups for our matches all year. Our young players will push our returners for playing time immediately, and that will ultimately make us better.”

UTEP fans are invited out for a sneak peek at the 2019 Miner Volleyball squad. The “Meet the Miners” event is free and open to the public.

Event goers will be able to pick up this year’s schedule poster, watch the team scrimmage and hear from new head coach Ben Wallis. After the scrimmage, fans will be invited down to the court to receive autographs and take pictures with the Miners.

Information on the new “Point Miners” club, which supports the UTEP Volleyball program, will be available and staff from the Miner Athletic Club will be on site to answer any questions.

The “Meet the Miners” event is part of the new outreach strategies by UTEP Athletics as well as the volleyball program to better engage the El Paso community and the Borderland.

Wallis and his staff will split their 20-player roster into two squads (Orange & Navy), and play a full match with officials. At the conclusion of the contest, fans will have the opportunity to meet, take pictures and get to know the players and coaches. Fans will also have a chance to take home signed 2019 volleyball posters.

“After our intrasquad scrimmage we will be hosting a Meet the Miners event, where the community can meet, greet and get to know our players and our staff,” Wallis said. “It is very important to me that our city feels like they have access to our players and our program, so it is a lot more fun for them to come out and cheer us on. I am hopeful that our fans will come out to not only see a new style of volleyball that we’ll be incorporating, but also the excitement, passion and tenacity that we will be playing with.”

The Miners, in Wallis’s first season, have added 10 players (six freshmen and four transfers) to the roster. The newcomers include three setters. Wallis filled out a good portion of the roster with local talent as well.

Freshmen Sophia Chacon, Abigail Padilla, Sofia Sifuentes and Jessica Landeros all hail from the Sun City. Wallis also brought Emily Perez and Priscilla Sanchez back to the 915 after stints at Incarnate Word and Jacksonville State, respectively. These six will join Erika Sianez and Briana Arellano in playing in their home city of El Paso.

“The roster from top to bottom is very athletic and our setting is much improved,” Wallis said. “We have a significant amount of competition at the setting position, after adding three setters since the fall. Kristen (Fritsche), the only returning setter on the roster from last year, is much better after a long spring in which she improved both technically and tactically. We have four setters on the roster, all who have a chance to play.”

Coach Wallis will be entering his first season leading the Miners after serving as Associate Head Coach of NM State for the past six years. He played a pivotal role in in three WAC championships for the Aggies, and has coached four AVCA All-Americans during his career.

For complete coverage of UTEP Volleyball, be sure to follow the Miners on social media at @UTEPVB (Instagram) and @UTEP_VB (Twitter) or visit the official home of UTEP Athletics at UTEPMiners.com

UTEP Volleyball earns AVCA Team Academic Award

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The UTEP volleyball team earned the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Team Academic Award for the third consecutive year, as announced by the organization earlier this week.

The award honors teams which maintained at least a 3.30 cumulative grade-point average on a 4.0 scale.

The 2018-2019 season produced an all-time high of 1,126 teams to win the coveted award.

Academically, the Miners were led by four Conference USA Commissioner’s Academic Medalists (Briana Arellano, Macey Austin, Kristin Fritsche and Cheyenne Jones), and 14 C-USA Commissioner’s Academic Honor Roll recipients.

For complete coverage of UTEP Volleyball, be sure to follow the Miners on social media at @UTEPVB (Instagram) and @UTEP_VB (Twitter) or visit the official home of UTEP Athletics at UTEPMiners.com.

UTEP Volleyball Announces 2019 27-Game Slate

UTEP Volleyball Head Coach Ben Wallis announced the Miners’ 2019 schedule on Tuesday. This is the first season of the Wallis era at UTEP.

“I think this schedule has a good balance of tough top 100-150 opponents and we’re really pushing our players to set goals to not only beat a few of them, but consistently compete at a high enough level that we give ourselves a chance to win on a nightly basis,” Wallis said. “Rivalry games are important, exciting, and for bragging rights and those are matches that will be highlighted on the schedule. I’m really excited to play New Mexico and NM State because they’re good volleyball teams and we’ll learn a lot about ourselves right away against quality opponents. Each season my goal is to make our non-conference schedule tougher and tougher to where we are ultimately competing against top-50 teams every season.”

The 2019 schedule is highlighted by nine matches against 2018 top-100 RPI opponents (Rice – 30, NM State – 49, Tulane – 61, WKU – 62, Texas Tech – 71, Florida Atlantic – 75, UTSA – 76) The Miners will take on Rice and UTSA twice each during conference play. Rice represented Conference USA in the NCAA Tournament last season. UTEP will participate in four tournaments before conference play begins.

The Miners will begin the 2019 campaign in an exhibition game versus New Mexico at home on Aug. 24.

“I’m really excited that Jon (Newman-Gonchar) and I could work out something to renew the rivalry to start the year, even if it is an exhibition,” Wallis said. “We both want to get New Mexico versus UTEP back on the schedule every year, just like NM State.”

The next weekend, UTEP will serve up its first regular season action by traveling to Lafayette, La., to take part in the I-10 Challenge. The squad will open the tournament versus Incarnate Word (Aug. 30), and later that day will play against host school Louisiana. On the next and final day of the tournament, the Miners will face Tulane, capping off their trip to the Pelican State.

The Orange and Blue will see its first official home action of the Wallis era when it co-hosts the Borderland Invitational Sept. 6-8. The Miners will match up against Coppin State on Sept. 6, and later that day UTEP will battle Texas A&M-Corpus Christi under the lights of historic Memorial Gym. On Sept. 7 the Miners will take on Pacific in Las Cruces, N.M., and will conclude the Borderland Invitational against rival NM State on Sept. 8.

“I’m looking forward to the I-10 Rivalry with NMSU as we’ll be going up against my former group,” Wallis said. “That will be exciting for my staff and I. That’s going to be tough and test our group to see if we’re competing at a high enough level.”

UTEP will make a trip into the Pacific Northwest Sept. 13-14 as it heads to Montana for the Montana Invitational Tournament. The Miners will play two games on the first day of the invitational, beginning with Cal State Bakersfield. They’ll wrap up day one against Montana State, and finish the road trip against the home team Montana on Sept. 14.

“We’ll open that tournament against Cal State Bakersfield which was one of our toughest opponents and rivals during my time at NMSU coaching in the WAC,” Wallis said. “Their coaching staff is always very well prepared, and gets their kids to play extremely hard.”

The final tournament for Wallis and the Miners will be the Red Raider Classic in Lubbock, Texas (Sept 20-21). A rematch versus Incarnate Word will open up play for UTEP. The first day of action in Lubbock will also feature a date with the Houston Cougars. Texas Tech is next on the docket and will be the final match for the Miners before Conference USA play begins.

C-USA matches will be played on Fridays and Sundays. There will be one exception, as the final week of conference action will feature matches on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

C-USA action will begin with the Orange and Blue traveling to 2018 conference champion Rice on Sept. 27. UTEP will stay in-state as it heads to San Antonio to take on UTSA on Sunday.

The Miners will enjoy an early bye on Friday Oct. 4, as they prepare for UTSA to come to town. This home match will be played in the Don Haskins Center. UTEP Volleyball has not played a match in the Don Haskins Center since it hosted the Borderland Invitational in the 2015 season.

“I’m extremely excited to play our first home conference match in ‘the Don’ and I’m going to be working hard with my staff, our marketing department and our city in order to pack that place full of crazy, loud Miner fans,” Wallis said.

The Miners will host UAB on Oct.11 and LA Tech on Oct. 13.

UTEP will go from the Sun City to the Sunshine State as it takes flight to Florida. On Oct. 18, the Miners will battle FIU. Then on Oct. 20, Florida Atlantic is on the docket.

There will be only one match during the weekend of Oct. 25. That Friday UTEP will square off against Marshall at Memorial Gym.

A road trip is in store for the Miners as they travel to play WKU Nov. 1, and Southern Miss on Nov. 3.

Nov. 8 will see Middle Tennessee come to town, with North Texas following suit on Nov. 10.

The Miners will wrap up their road slate at Charlotte on Nov. 14. UTEP will put the finishing touches on the regular season at home against Rice on Nov. 16.

Rice will host this year’s C-USA Tournament Nov. 22-24.

UTEP Names Ben Wallis Volleyball Head Coach

Ben Wallis, who was a part of NM State’s run to 136 victories and three NCAA Tournament berths over the last six years, has been named volleyball head coach at UTEP, Director of Athletics Jim Senter announced on Wednesday.

Wallis, who served as a volunteer assistant coach for the Aggies during the 2005-06 season, returned to NM State as Assistant Coach in July of 2013. He was elevated to Associate Head Coach in 2016.

With Wallis on the bench the Aggies forged a mark of 136-51 over the last six seasons, including a stellar 76-13 record in Western Athletic Conference play. NMSU was the WAC Tournament champion in 2013, 2015 and 2018, advancing to the NCAA Tournament each year.

“I want to welcome Ben and his family to our Miner family,” Senter said. “We had a great applicant pool and he emerged as one of the top candidates. We talked to a lot of folks in the volleyball world and his name kept coming up as a person who is ready and capable of leading a program. He is known for his technical expertise, developing players and recruiting. It’s a bonus that he is already in our region and has roots in the Sun City. When someone has been mentored by Hall of Fame caliber coaches such as Mike Jordan and Flo Valdez, you have a high comfort level that they have been trained the right way. We have expectations to compete for and win championships, and I feel strongly that Ben can move our program towards the realization of that vision.”

“Ben is a great addition to the Miner family,” Julie Levesque, UTEP’s Senior Associate Athletic Director and Volleyball sport administrator, said. “He is an excellent recruiter, trainer and tactician and knows El Paso and the region very well. He has tremendous passion for volleyball and has a great plan for the program that will enable the Miners to compete for and win championships.”

The Aggies averaged 22.7 wins with Wallis since 2013, and finished first in the WAC regular season standings on four occasions (2013, 2015, 2016, 2017) with runner-up showings in 2014 and 2018. NM State posted 28 wins in 2015, including an unblemished 14-0 WAC ledger.

Serving as NMSU’s lead scout and defensive coordinator, Wallis played a crucial role in the Aggies ranking first in the WAC in opponent hitting percentage over each of the last six seasons. NMSU rated second nationally in opponent hitting percentage in 2017 (.139). Wallis also helped assemble the top recruiting class in NMSU history in 2018.

Wallis coached four AVCA All-Americans – middle blocker Gwen Murphy, middle hitter Kim Oguh, middle blocker Desiree Scott and middle hitter Amber Simpson — while at NM State. The Aggies had the WAC Player of the Year in 2015 (Murphy) and 2017 (outside hitter Kassandra Tohm), and the WAC Libero of the Year in 2016 and 2017 (Ariadnne Sierra). Six Aggies earned first team All-WAC honors over the last six years – OH Jordan Abalos (2016), OH Tatyana Battle (2016, 2017 & 2018), MB Megan Hart (2018), Murphy (2013 & 2015), Scott (2013) and Tohm (2017).

While at NMSU worked with legendary head coach Mike Jordan, who has posted 466 wins in 21 seasons with the Aggies.

“UTEP made a great choice,” Jordan said. “Ben will do a great job there as he has here. I’m happy for Ben and Leah that they get to stay close to family and he has this opportunity. He’s a really good coach and an even better friend, so I’m glad he’ll be close by.”

Wallis brings over 11 years of Division I collegiate coaching experience, plus nine more years at the high school and club level, to El Paso. He has coached and trained six All-Americans and three conference players of the year.

His first stint with NM State was as a volunteer assistant coach during the 2005 season. He spent two years (2009-11) as the head coach at Cleveland High School in Rio Rancho, N.M., where he built a state championship team from the ground up. Six players on his 2011 squad went on to play college volleyball.

Assistant volleyball coach Ben Wallis (Photo by Victoria Palombit)

Wallis served as an assistant coach at New Mexico from 2011-13 prior to returning to Las Cruces. He coached AVCA All-Americans Hannah Johnson and Chantale Riddle while in Albuquerque, and helped put together a top-25 recruiting class in 2013.

Wallis also gained experience as a varsity assistant coach at El Paso’s Franklin High School, Rio Rancho High School and as a head coach at Gadsden High School in Anthony, N.M. He has acted as head trainer and club director for the Diamondback Volleyball Club in Las Cruces since 2013. The team captured the region title in 2016 and finished 19th at the USAV National Tournament.

“I think it’s the greatest hire UTEP could possibly make,” said El Paso volleyball coaching legend Flo Valdez. “Ben is enthusiastic, he’s a go getter and he’s passionate about the game. When he started with me as a freshman coach [at Franklin High School], I knew he was going to go far. He has been a friend of mine for a long time. He knows El Paso and he knows high school volleyball in El Paso. I have no doubt that UTEP is going to go to great heights quickly with Ben. I am so excited for him, El Paso and for volleyball in general in our community.”

Wallis and his wife Leah, a former NM State volleyball player, have two sons – Benjamin Kristopher Wallis II and Beau William Wallis. His wife, the former Leah Nye, was an All-City volleyball player at Eastwood High School in El Paso before continuing her career with the Aggies.

UTEP’s Briana Arellano Receives C-USA Spirit of Service Award

DALLAS – UTEP volleyball’s Briana Arellano was recognized as one of the 13 recipients of the Conference USA Spirit of Service award, the league announced on Wednesday afternoon.

The C-USA Spirit of Service Award is designed to recognize the community service efforts of the league’s student-athletes, based upon significant community service, good academic standing and participation in their elected sport.

“Knowing that I am being recognized for serving the El Paso community, the community I grew up in, is such an honor.” Arellano said.

Arellano accumulated 20 hours of service during the fall semester. She volunteered with the Game Changers Youth Volleyball Camp, assisting kids with their volleyball skills to youth. The outside hitter also helped with the UTEP Alumni Picnic.

The junior was named the Miners’ captain, and was one of three players on the squad to pass the century mark in both kills and digs in the season.

She is a two-time Conference USA Commissioner’s Academic Honor Roll recipient (2017 & 2018) and a C-USA Academic Medal honoree for the 2016-2017 academic year.

“Being able to play and give back has always been my goal, and it is amazing that I am being recognized for it.” Arellano said.

Twenty-Two UTEP Student-Athletes to Graduate This Week

Twenty-two past and present UTEP student-athletes will graduate from the university on Saturday, December 15.

The list includes 12 representatives from the football program, six from track & field, three from soccer and one from volleyball.

Highlighting the list of graduates are three-time first team All-American Jonah Koech and seven-time Conference USA champion Lilian Koech from track and field.

Of the 12 graduating football student athletes, 10 have made starts for the Miners (OL Jerrod Brooks, DT Sani Buckingham, RB/LB Treyvon Hughes, DB Alex JeanCharles, WR Terry Juniel, TE David Lucero, DB Nik Needham, WR Warren Redix, OL Tanner Stallings, TE Josh Weeks).

Juniel is ranked in the top-10 in school history in kickoff return yards (1,253) and Needham is UTEP’s career leader in pass breakups with 33.

Nine of the graduates have earned a spot on the Conference USA Commissioner’s Academic Honor Roll during their careers for posting a grade point average of 3.0 or better.

 ***

Kylie Baumgartner (Volleyball)

Pleasant Hill, Calif.

Ranks third all-time for block assists (300) and fifth in total blocks (341) in program history … the only Miner to lead the team in block assists and total blocks for three consecutive seasons … participated in 105 matches and had 352 sets played throughout her career … two-time member of the Conference USA Commissioner’s Academic Honor Roll … Biology major.

 

Ada Benjamin (Track & Field)

Lagos, Nigeria

Helped the women’s track and field team claim four Conference USA titles, including its first conference outdoor title … registered a personal best of 52.76 seconds in the 400m at the 2017 Conference USA Outdoor Championships, earning a spot at the NCAA West Preliminaries … one-time member of the Conference USA Commissioner’s Academic Honor Roll … Entrepreneurship major.

 

Jerrod Brooks (Football)

Dallas, Texas

Offensive lineman who played in 37 games and started in 18 for the Orange and Blue … a four-time letter winner for the Miners … helped Aaron Jones gain a single-season program-record 1,773 yards in 2016 while becoming UTEP’s all-time leading rusher … double major in Communication and Criminal Justice.

 

Sani Buckingham (Football)

Tafuna, American Samoa

A two-time letterwinner … has seen playing time at tight end and in the defensive line while appearing in 17 games in the Orange and Blue … one-time member of the Conference USA Commissioner’s Academic Honor Roll … Economics major.

 

Kennadie Chaudhary (Soccer)

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Played in 73 games and started 53 for the Miners … tallied 11 goals, seven assists and 29 points … scored three game-winning goals … helped the Miners to a 1-0 win over Rice at the 2016 C-USA Championships … four-time member of the Conference USA Commissioner’s Academic Honor Roll … Forensic Science major.

 

Stephen Forester (Football)

Dallas, Texas

A three-year letter winner for the Miners … saw action in 18 games for UTEP … three-time member of the Conference USA Commissioner’s Academic Honor Roll … Finance major.

 

Asa Guevara (Track & Field)

Chaguanas, Trinidad & Tobago

Took gold in the 400m at the 2018 Conference USA Outdoor Championships with a personal best time of 45.26 seconds … was ranked 26th nationally with a personal best of 20.51 seconds in the 200m, posted at the 2018 Desert Heat Classic … advanced to the NCAA West Preliminaries twice … Multidisciplinary Studies major.

 

Treyvon Hughes (Football)

Waxahachie, Texas

Played in 33 games and made eight starts for the Orange and Blue … rushed for 320 yards on 98 attempts … made six starts at linebacker and registered 40 tackles and two quarterback hurries during the 2017 season … Criminal Justice major.

 

Adrian Hynson (Football)

Corpus Christi, Texas

Played in 37 games on special teams and defense for UTEP … a three-year letter winner for the Miners … registered 28 tackles and a sack … Organizational & Corporate Communication major.

 

Alex JeanCharles (Football)

Winter Haven, Fla.

Played in 10 games and made one start for the Orange and Blue … a two-year letter winner for the Miners … Multidisciplinary Studies major.

 

Terry Juniel (Football)

Surprise, Ariz.

Tallied 2,209 all-purpose yards in his UTEP career …  ranked eighth in school history in kickoff return yards … finished the 2018 season ranked third in C-USA in punt return average … Multidisciplinary Studies major.

 

Jonah Koech (Track & Field)

Eldoret, Kenya

Made six NCAA Championship appearances … finished the 2018 outdoor season with a personal best of 1:46.23 seconds in the 800m, finishing sixth at the NCAA Championships … garnered first team All-American honors three times … helped the men’s cross country team claim two Conference USA titles … Management major.

 

Lilian Koech (Track & Field)

Eldoret, Kenya

Helped the UTEP women’s cross country team capture the first conference title in program history … also aided the women’s track and field squad to four Conference USA titles … earned seven Conference USA gold medals and advanced to the NCAA Championships once … Biological Sciences major.

 

David Lucero (Football)

Holtville, Calif.

Registered 20 catches for 322 yards in 2018, becoming only the sixth UTEP tight end to tally 300 yards in a campaign … played in 20 games for the Miners and made 12 starts … closed out his career with 37 receptions for 451 yards and three touchdowns … Multidisciplinary Studies major.

 

Rasmus Maukonen (Track & Field)

Palokka, Finland

Closed out the 2015 season with an NCAA Championship appearance in the javelin and finished 20th overall … launched the seventh-longest throw in program history of 73.64m in the javelin at the 2016 UTEP Springtime meet … three-time member of the Conference USA Commissioner’s Academic Honor Roll … Mechanical Engineering major.

 

Nik Needham (Football)

Buena Park, Calif.

Started in 41 games for the Miners … registered a school record 33 pass breakups … concluded career with 213 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss and three interceptions … Organizational & Corporate Communication major.

 

Tyler Ragin (Track & Field)

Macon, Ga.

Helped the UTEP women’s track and field team claim four Conference USA titles, including its first conference outdoor crown … posted a personal best of 5.94m in the long jump at the Sun Angel Classic … three-time member of the Conference USA Commissioner’s Academic Honor Roll … Organizational & Corporate Communication major.

 

Warren Redix (Football)

El Paso, Texas

Played in 46 games for UTEP and made 18 starts at wide receiver … registered 85 catches for 856 yards and five touchdowns … saw the field as a running back, receiver and returner … Multimedia Journalism major.

 

Sheridan Smith (Soccer)

Yuma, Ariz.

Appeared in 28 games for the Miners … logged 170 minutes in the Orange and Blue … two-time member of the Conference USA Commissioner’s Academic Honor Roll … Multidisciplinary Studies major.

 

Tanner Stallings (Football)

Sterling, Kan.

Played in 17 games and made nine starts for the Orange and Blue … efforts in the offensive line helped the Miners average 185.5 rushing yards per game and 20 rushing touchdowns in 2016, while aiding Aaron Jones to a single-season program-record 1,773 rushing yards … Multidisciplinary Studies major.

 

Carmen Webster (Soccer)

Spring, Texas

Played in nine games for the Miners … assisted on the game-winning goal against Houston Baptist during her first year at UTEP … two-time member of the Conference USA Commissioner’s Academic Honor Roll … Biology major.

 

Josh Weeks (Football)

Show Low, Ariz.

Played in 19 games and made two starts for the Miners … registered 14 catches for 221 yards and one touchdown in his career … Multidisciplinary Studies major.

Austin Named to All C-USA Second Team

IRVING, Texas – Junior outside hitter Macey Austin was named to the All-Conference USA Second Team, the league announced on Wednesday afternoon.

This is the second consecutive season that the junior has received all-conference USA second-team honors.

Austin started in all 26 matches and played in all 99 sets for the Miners this season. She set a season career high in kills with 366 (eighth in C-USA) and kills per set with 3.70 (fifth in C-USA).

The junior registered 22 double-digit kill outings, along with eight double-doubles. The outside hitter put on a show against Illinois-Chicago (8/31) when she recorded 23 kills and 14 digs in a five-set victory over the Flames. In the opening match of the season versus Incarnate Word, the outside hitter locked in 23 kills in the win which rates as the fourth-most kills in a four-set match by any C-USA player this season.

Austin became only the 10th player in program history to reach the 1,000-kill mark and rates fourth all-time in kills per set (3.25). She is the first player to lead the Orange and Blue in kills for three-consecutive seasons since Amy Sanders (2007-09).

Earlier this week the league announced the selection of Austin to the 2018 InTouch Credit Union C-USA All-Academic Team.

Macey Austin Selected to C-USA All-Academic Team

IRVING, Texas – Junior outside hitter Macey Austin was selected to the 2018 InTouch Credit Union C-USA All-Academic Team, the league announced on Tuesday afternoon.

Austin started in all 26 matches and played in all 99 sets for the Miners this season. She set a season career high in kills with 366 (eighth in C-USA) and kills per set with 3.70 (fifth in C-USA).

The junior registered 22 double-digit kill outings, along with eight double-doubles. Her best performance of the season came against Illinois-Chicago (8/31) when she recorded 23 kills and 14 digs in a five-set victory over the Flames.

The Keller, Texas, native boasts a 3.95 GPA majoring in kinesiology. She is a two-time C-USA Commissioner’s Academic Medal recipient (2017 & 2018) and C-USA Commissioner’s Academic Honor Roll honoree (2017 & 2018).

Austin became only the 10th player in program history to reach the 1,000-kill mark, and rates fourth all-time in kills per set (3.25).

She is the first player to lead the Orange and Blue in kills for three-consecutive seasons (2016, 17 and 18) since Amy Sanders (2007, 08 and 09).

UTEP Volleyball Adds Coronado’s Sofia Sifuentes For 2019 Season

On Tuesday, the UTEP volleyball team announced the addition of defensive specialist/libero Sofia Sifuentes on Tuesday afternoon.

Sifuentes, a native of El Paso, Texas, played her high school career at Coronado High School. In her senior year she helped lead the T-Birds to a 36-7 record, earning a district championship and a Regional Semifinal appearance in the state playoffs.

She is a three-year letter winner at Coronado, and during her senior campaign the defensive specialist accumulated 271 digs, 2.4 digs per set and 21 aces. She produced six double-digit dig performances, and registered a career-high 16 digs in a four-set victory over Midland (9/15).

Sifuentes is the granddaughter of legendary volleyball head coach Norman Brandl, who produced the second most wins (355) in UTEP history by any head coach. Her mother, Chris Brandl, played at UTEP from 1988-1991, and recorded the most assists (4,210) and aces (148) by any player in program history.

“I chose UTEP to continue my volleyball career following in my mother’s footsteps. The location of the campus grants me the opportunity to study biology in depth, while remaining minutes away from my family at home.” Sifuentes said

Watts Out: UTEP Announces Change in Leadership With Volleyball Program

UTEP Director of Athletics Jim Senter announced on Monday that volleyball head coach Holly Watts will not return for the 2019 season.

“While the hard work and dedication is unquestioned, the results on the court did not meet expectations under Holly’s leadership,” Senter said.  “We thank her for her service to UTEP and wish her well in the future.”

Watts finishes her UTEP tenure with a record of 48-127, including a 24-64 mark in Conference USA play.

The Miners last posted double-digit victories (14) in her first season as head coach in 2013.

UTEP qualified for the Conference USA Tournament twice in her six seasons as head coach, in 2013 and 2016.  The Miners finished 5-21 in 2018 with a 2-12 C-USA record.

A native of Devine, Texas, Watts played at Texas from 1989-93 and was elected the team’s Most Valuable Player in 1993. Watts also played one season for the Texas basketball team (1993-94), averaging 15.4 minutes, 7.5 points, and 5.6 rebounds, with a .593 field goal percentage. Her efforts helped the Longhorns to an SWC title and top-25 ranking.

She began her coaching career at the University of Texas at Arlington (1994-96), while also founding and coaching the Texas Impact Volleyball Club team during that time. Watts moved on to Arkansas in 1996. The next 12 years (1996-2007) saw the Lady Razorbacks fashion a 272-129 mark, including 138-56 in the Southeastern Conference.

A national search will begin immediately to hire her successor.

UTEP Volleyball Drops Match at North Texas

The UTEP volleyball team (5-20, 2-11 C-USA) fell at North Texas (14-15, 10-3 C-USA) in four sets (16-25, 25-20, 9-25, 17-25), on Thursday evening.

Macey Austin was a standout in Thursday night’s match with 18 kills, hitting at a .325 clip and adding six digs. Austin produced a remarkable second set, tallying 10 kills to boost the Miners to the set victory.

Kristen Fritsche notched 32 assists and eight digs, while Briana Bustillos paced UTEP with 15 digs. Martine Kragholm helped the Orange and Blue out block the Mean Green with six total blocks on the night.

The Miners and Mean Green had back and forth action to begin the first set. With the score tied at 8-8, North Texas would string together a 7-1 run that gave it a 15-9 advantage on its home court. The run gave the Mean Green all of the cushion they needed to secure the set, 25-16.

Austin asserted her dominance in the second set with 10 kills, as her teammates could sense she was in the zone. Her effort helped the Miners claim the set, 25-20.

North Texas in the third set built up a large run that allowed it to control the entirety of the game, 25-9.

The Mean Green picked up where they left off in the third set, taking control early and throughout the fourth set. The Miners fought hard behind stellar and strong play from Austin, but ultimately fell,

Net Notes

  • Macey Austin recorded her 994th kill of her career, only needing six to reach the 1,000 kill plateau
  • The Miners will hit the road for the final match of the season against UTSA (18-7, 10-3 C-USA) on Saturday at 11 a.m. MT.

UTEP Volleyball Sweeps 49ers on Senior Day

The UTEP volleyball team (4-19, 1-10 C-USA) sweeps Charlotte (19-4, 10-0 C-USA) in five sets (25-21, 26-24, 25-15), on Sunday afternoon at Memorial Gym.

Macey Austin led the way for UTEP with a double-double (14 kills and 12 digs). Serena Patterson locked in nine kills and 13 digs, while Cheyenne Jones added nine kills and five total blocks.

In their final match of their careers in Memorial Gym seniors Maddie Morgan, Kylie Baumgartner and Ashley Grzebeniak produced winning performances. Morgan recorded seven kills and four total blocks and Baumgartner tallied four kills and two total blocks.

Grzebeniak had a crucial kill in the final stages of the deciding third set that secured the victory for the Miners. Setter Kristen Fritsche distributed 38 assists to her teammates and Briana Bustillos dug a team-high 17 balls.

The Miners came out firing on all cylinders in the first set, beginning with a 4-1 advantage, led by three kills from Austin and one from Baumgartner. The 49ers would respond tying up the set at 11-11.

An 8-2 run from Charlotte helped give it a 16-13 lead in the middle of the set. The Miners would immediately rectify the situation with a 6-0 run giving them a 19-16 cushion. UTEP would ride this momentum to a set victory, 25-21, behind Austin’s six kills and a blistering .455 hitting percentage.

In the second set, UTEP kept up the pace with a 9-4 lead that forced an early Charlotte timeout. The Miners were producing incredible offensive efficiency, registering a .323 hitting percentage that propelled them to an 18-11 advantage. The 49ers would rally cutting the UTEP edge to three, 21-18, which forced a timeout from the home squad.

Charlotte would maintain the pressure tying the set at 23-23. The Miners would hold off the Charlotte rally and take the set, 26-24, after a kill from Jones.

Once again, UTEP came out hot with a 6-2 run to begin the third set. The Miners would build on this to develop a 16-9 advantage that was highlighted by a block assist from Morgan and Jones. The Orange and Blue would never look back claiming the set, match and Senior Day, 25-15.

Net Notes

  •  Kylie Baumgartner is now fifth all-time in total blocks (341)
  •  First home victory and sweep of the season for the Miners
  • First home-sweep victory since Oct. 29, 2017, versus Middle Tennessee
  • The Miners will hit the road for the final two matches of the season against North Texas (12-15, 8-3 C-USA) on Thursday at 5 p.m. MT and UTSA (18-7, 10-3 C-USA) on Saturday at 11 p.m. MT.

UTEP Volleyball Prepares For Final Home Match Sunday

The UTEP volleyball team (4-19, 1-10 C-USA) will play Charlotte (15-12, 5-6 C-USA) on Sunday. The game, scheduled to start at 12 P.M. MT, will mark the final home match of the season for the Miners as they face the 49ers.

Three seniors will be honored (Kylie Baumgartner, Ashley Grzebeniak and Maddie Morgan) for their careers wearing the Orange and Blue.

UTEP and the 49ers have faced off five times since Charlotte joined C-USA in 2013. The Miners are behind in the all-time series, having taken one victory (10/7/2016).

Macey Austin led the way for UTEP in the sweep over the 49ers with 11 kills. Kylie Baumgartner added seven kills and a block assist, while Briana Arellano produced 13 digs in UTEP’s dominating performance.

Freshman setter Kristen Fritsche has been the model of consistency for the Miners this year. She has amassed a team-leading 760 assists (eighth C-USA) and 223 digs (second on squad). Fritsche has earned seven double-doubles this season. She had a career match against San Diego State (9/15), when she recorded 54 assists and 11 digs and led the Miners to a 3-2 victory.

The setter was an all-tournament selection for the Omaha Challenge and SDSU/USD Challenge. The freshman provided a veteran performance against C-USA front-runner Rice. She logged 46 assists and 15 digs as the Miners nearly upset the Owls in five sets.

Hayley Meshay has also logged valuable minutes at the setter position in the latter half of the season. The freshman’s breakout performance came against UTSA (9/30) when she recorded five kills and 15 assists in the five-set thriller.

Since then she has become a staple in the Miner offense as a solid passer and has shown an excellent feel for attacking from the setter spot with 19 kills since the UTSA contest.

Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for kids. For more information about the team day program call the UTEP marketing department at (915) 747-6065.

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