UTEP’s Kathleen Percegona | Photo courtesy UTEP Athletics
LAS VEGAS – UTEP’s Kathleen Percegona outlasted UNLV’s Sam Smith in a third set tiebreaker at no. 5 singles, giving the Miners a come-from-behind, 4-3 win over the homestanding Rebels on Saturday afternoon in Las Vegas.
UTEP (1-3) overcame a 3-1 deficit, as Percegona, Erandi Martinez and Elena Dibattista all notched singles victories in three sets to rally UTEP to its first-ever win over UNLV (2-3). The Miners are now 1-3 all-time versus the Rebels.
UTEP also defeated a Mountain West opponent for the second time in three years under coach Ivan Fernandez. The Miners topped the Boise State Broncos, 4-3, in El Paso in April of 2019.
The Miners were able to secure the crucial doubles point. Thassane Abrahim and Veronika Lebisova won 6-4 over UNLV’s Smith and Connie Li at no. 2 doubles. Percegona and Lyric Bonilla prevailed 7-5 over the Rebels’ Zita Kovacs and Olivia Elliott at no. 3 doubles.
“We got off to a solid start in the doubles,” Fernandez said. “Our number three doubles team was down 4-1 and fought back to win the point for us.”
The Rebels, however, pushed the Miners to the brink as Izumi Asano, En-Pei Huang and Kovacs recorded victories at no. 1, no. 2 and no. 4 singles.
Martinez topped UNLV’s Li, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 at no. 3 singles. Martinez is 3-0 in singles action this spring. Dibattista bested the Rebels’ Aura Fang 6-4, 6-7, 6-1 out of the no. 6 slot. The match was all knotted up at 3, setting up Percegona’s heroics. She defeated Smith 5-7, 6-4, 7-6.
“In the singles, we went down 3-1 but kept fighting to win the final three singles matches, all in three sets,” Fernandez said. “I am super proud of these girls for bouncing back today and pulling off a great win.”
The Miners will return to El Paso to begin a 10-match homestand on Wednesday (Feb. 24) versus New Mexico at noon. UTEP will also host Seward County Community College (Friday, Feb. 26, noon) and C-USA foe UTSA (Saturday, Feb. 27, 10 a.m.) next weekend.
UTEP 4, UNLV 3
- Izumi Asano/En-Pei Huang (UNLV) def. Vanessa Valdez/Eve Daniels (UTEP) 6-4
- Thassane Abrahim/Veronika Lebisova (UTEP) def. Sam Smith/Connie Li (UNLV) 6-4
- Kathleen Percegona/Lyric Bonilla (UTEP) def. Zita Kovacs/Olivia Elliott (UNLV) 7-5
- Izumi Asano (UNLV) def. Vanessa Valdez (UTEP) 6-1, 6-2
- En-Pei Huang (UNLV) def. Thassane Abrahim (UTEP) 6-3, 6-1
- Erandi Martinez (UTEP) def. Connie Li (UNLV) 3-6, 6-4, 6-2
- Zita Kovacs (UNLV) def. Veronika Lebisova (UTEP) 6-3, 6-2
- Kathleen Percegona (UTEP) def. Sam Smith (UNLV) 5-7, 6-4, 7-6
- Elena Dibattista (UTEP) def. Aura Fang (UNLV) 6-4, 6-7, 6-1