Photo by Andres Acosta, Chief Photographer El Paso Herald Post
The UTEP volleyball team will host its final weekend home stand of the season when LA Tech and Middle Tennessee make their way to the Sun City.
The Miners will face the Lady Techsters (6-17, 1-8 C-USA) on Friday at 6 p.m. (MT) and close out the weekend with a Sunday meeting with Middle Tennessee (6-18, 2-8 C-USA) at noon, both matches will be played in Memorial Gym.
UTEP return home after a weekend on the road when they faced league leaders No. 1 WKU and No. 2 Rice. The Miners fell to the undefeated Hilltoppers 25-22, 25-11, 25-17 last Friday at the E.A. Diddle Arena in Bowling Green, KY.
The team then hopped on a plane to Houston, Texas, to face Rice. The Miners got off to a slow start in the first set, but rebounded in the next two to take a 2-1 lead in the match. Rice won the next two sets as the Owls to edge the Miners 3-2 (25-8, 22-25, 20-25, 25-16, 15-12) on Sunday in Tudor Fieldhouse.
The Owls avenged their Sept. 22 loss to the Miners, their lone league loss. The Orange and Blue saw key performances from Macey Austin, who notched 30 kills between the two games, Cheyenne Jones, who posted 18 kills on the weekend, and Dania Orozco, who picked up a career-high 17 digs against Rice.
The Miners and Lady Techsters will be competing for their second conference win, while Middle Tennessee will be playing for a third league victory.
Sunday’s match will be Senior Day for the team and seniors Amanda King and Dania Orozco will be celebrated. UTEP will also celebrate Middle Tennessee’s lone senior, Sloan Sullivan, during the pregame introductions.
LA TECH Scouting Report
Series: Friday’s match will mark the sixteenth match between the Miners and the Lady Techsters, with UTEP holding an 8-7 overall record versus LA Tech. They first met at the North Texas Classic in Denton, Texas in 1994, when LA Tech won in a 3-1 fashion. The last meeting between the foes was in 2015, when LA Tech took the match 3-0. The Lady Techsters are 6-17 overall and are 1-8 in C-USA play.
LADY TECHSTER Notables
Offensively, LA Tech will consist of Marta Monne and Gina Cortesi. Monne leads the team with 251 kills this season (3.10 kills/set). She also has 228 digs (2.81 digs/set) defensively. Cortesi also has 202 kills this season (2.43 kills/set). Setting up the offense is Brooke Short, who has dished out 700 assists (8.54 assists/set) and ranks 10th in C-USA.
Cater Mirich, Jacie McClure, and Alyssa Zucco will also lead the charge defensively. McClure leads the team with 261 (3.11 digs/set) this season, sitting in ninth among the conference leaders. Mirich has 186 digs (2.27 digs/set) and Zucco has 115 digs (2.25 digs/set). Madeline Davis will also help lead the Bulldogs defensively will 88 blocks this season (1.00 block/set). Davis also ranks ninth in the league in hitting percentage with a .342 clip.
MIDDLE TENNESSEE SCOUTING REPORT
Series: Sunday’s match will mark the sixth time that the Blue Raiders and the Miners have meet, with UTEP holding a 5-0 overall record versus Middle Tennessee. They first met in 1993 at the Saint Louis Invitational in Saint Louis, MO, with the Miners sweeping the Blue Raiders 3-0.
The last meeting between the Miners and the Blue Raiders was in 2015, when the Miners won the match 3-1. The Blue Raiders are 6-16 overall and 2-6 in C-USA play.
BLUE RAIDER NOTABLES
Rice is second in Conference USA (6-1) standings and 16-5 overall. The Owls rallied back after dropping the first two sets to claim a 3-2 win against UAB in Birmingham (21-25, 22-25, 25-17, 25-17,15-12). Senior Portia Okafor led the Owls in both kills (17) and blocks (9) while hitting a team-high percentage (.567) versus the Blazers.
Okafor is currently ranked ninth in blocks (1.00 per set) in C-USA. The Owls also have an offensive weapon in Nicole Lennon, who has knocked down 329 kills this season. Her 3.66 kills per set average puts her in sixth among C-USA rankings. Grace Morgan was one of four Owls with double-figure kills (12) against UAB. Morgan leads the team in hitting percentage (.380) and rates first in the league. The sophomore is also second on the team with 225 kills and 68 total blocks this season.
Morgan garnered C-USA Defensive Player of the Week on Oct. 9. Setting up the Rice attacks is Madison McDaniel, who has dished out 672 assists (10.84 per set) to rank fifth in the league.
Picking up opponent attacks for the Owls is Lee Ann Cunningham. Cunningham has totaled 409 digs this season at 4.54 per set to rank second in conference.