FILE: Serena Patterson | Photo courtesy UTEP Athletics
SAN MARCOS, Texas – Coach Ben Wallis looked into junior Serena Patterson’s eyes during UTEP’s final timeout with the set point on the line.
“I told Serena Patterson that she was going to win the game on an assisted swing, a tough swing,” Wallis said. “Lo and behold, my foreseeable thought was what ended the game.”
UTEP Volleyball (0-0) upset the 2018 and 2019 Sun Belt Conference champion Texas State Bobcats (3-1) in four sets (25-21, 23-25, 25-20, 25-23) 3-1, in its second scrimmage Saturday morning. It was the first home loss for the Bobcats since Dec. 1, 2017, against Texas Tech.
Patterson – whose birthday it was today – wound up for a mighty swing to put to end a rally and a tight fourth and final set to give the Miners their first unofficial victory of the scrimmage season.
“(Patterson) was much better today and at understanding how to score,” Wallis said. “She had a better temperament today and didn’t get down on herself.”
Patterson ended her special day with eight kills and seven digs.
Sophomore outside hitter Alianza Darley collected a career-high 17 kills and redshirt freshman middle blocker Irbe Lazda added another 13 kills.
Wallis said the performance right side of the court – which was without the team’s top point scorer in 2019, Cheyenne Jones – was instrumental in the Miner win.
“(Darley and Lazda) were magnificent on the right,” Wallis said. “At one point we just kept force feeding balls to (them) and (Texas State) couldn’t stop them over here and that bodes well for us because we’re still missing our top point scorer who is a right. The fact that if we can get (Jones) back and be even more dangerous, we’re going to be tough to deal with.”
Wallace added, “My staff and I, watching them in practice, have felt strongly that we will be one of the top four or five teams in the conference. The Sun Belt is a good conference too and to measure ourselves against a very good opponent who brings back a lot of veterans – that gives me a lot of confidence that we can compete to be one of the top four teams in the conference and get into the tournament and give us a chance.”
Next up, the Miners’ next set of scrimmages are against North Texas (0-0) and Stephen F. Austin (3-1) on October 3-4.