UTEP Volleyball Begins 2015 Campaign on the Road

The UTEP volleyball team will begin the 2015 campaign with three matches on the road. The Miners will take on SMU in the TCU tournament on Friday at 10 a.m. in Dallas, Texas.

The Orange and Blue will then head to Fort Worth, Texas for a double-header on Aug. 29 against Abilene Christian at 9 a.m. and TCU at 5 p.m.

Live Streaming:
All Matches: http://www.gofrogs.com/collegesportslive/?media=502275

Live Stats:
UTEP vs. SMU: http://www.utepathletics.com/gametracker/launch/gt_wvolley.html?event=1428454&school=utep&sport=wvolley&camefrom=&startschool=&

UTEP vs. ACU: http://www.utepathletics.com/gametracker/launch/gt_wvolley.html?event=1428455&school=utep&sport=wvolley&camefrom=&startschool=&

UTEP vs. TCU: http://www.cstv.com/gametracker/launch/gt_wvolley.html?event=1424181&school=cbs&sport=wvolley&camefrom=&startschool=&

Series: This will be the 29th match between the two former Conference USA foes on the court. The Mustangs hold a 20-8 advantage over the Orange and Blue. The last meeting (11/02/12) in between the two saw the Miners take a spirited victory over SMU at Memorial Gym.

SMU returns six of seven starters, including 2014 American Athletic Conference Libero of the Year Morgan Heise and 2013 conference Setter of the Year Avery Acker, from a program record 26-6 campaign in 2014. The Mustangs won an SMU-record 11 consecutive matches, including a 3-2 victory over then-No. 24 Oklahoma, the program’s first win against a ranked opponent.

Series: Abilene Christian and UTEP have never faced off before. The two teams will converge in Fort Worth on Saturday morning to begin the second day of the TCU tournament.

ACU returns two starters, Jennifer Loerch and Sarah Siemens, who played in 113 sets for the Wildcats last year. Loerch averaged a stunning 3.71 kills per set on her way to tallying 419 total on the year. Siemens is the main distributor, and she assisted on 776 points during the 2014 season. The Bobcats are a relatively young team with 10 underclassmen and five upperclassmen.

Series: The two teams have met eight times in the past and the Miners hold the edge by taking five matches. Last year, TCU downed the Miners in a four-set match. Talia Jones notched a team-high 11 kills and Lindsey Larson secured her 11th double-double of the season with 34 assists and 13 digs.

The Frogs finished 2014 with a record of 17-15 and 6-10 overall in the Big 12. TCU’s most established player is Ashley Smith, a 2015 Preseason All-Big 12 selection. Smith paced the Frogs last year in kills with 333. Senior setter Alexia Heist tallied 836 assists during the 2014 season.

UTEP will begin the 2015 season with four student-athletes on the roster who were raised and trained outside of the United States. Canada is the most represented country with three players and Belgium follows with one. The success of outside hitter Coline Coessens (Belgium) and setter Lindsey Larson (Canada) has shown that seeking international talent could be a promising decision in terms of recruitment.

In the 2014 season, UTEP demonstrated it could dominate its digging skills. Together the Miners finished at 1,610, averaging 15.19 digs per set. Through the fearless defensive efforts, the Miners did not drop below an average of 14.00 per set. Defensive specialistsSarah Villa registered 265 digs followed by setter Lindsey Larson with 227. True freshman Coline Coessens recorded 224 digs and following in suit was defensive specialist Ashley Peak by tallying 202 digs. Senior Naomi Whitehair chipped in a total 163 digs to top off the 2014 campaign.

UTEP returns four starters and eight letter winners while adding six freshmen and a transfer. With a squad of 15, the Miners have six outside hitters, four defensive specialist, three middle blockers and two setters. Talia Jones, Lindsey Larson, Coline Coessens andAshley Peak are the returning starters for the 2015 campaign. Since her arrival at UTEP, Jones has seen action in 194 sets while making 48 career starts. The setter, Larson, has participated in 200 sets and started in 55 matches from 2013-2014. Peak, a defensive specialist,  has accumulated 32 starting appearances while participating in 189 sets in 2012 and 2014. Coessens played in 95 sets and earned a spot in the starting lineup for 26 matches.

Redshirt-freshmen April Luther and Kylie Baumgartner will be joining the Miners on the court after sitting out the 2014 season. Seven newcomers, including Tatum Winter, a junior college transfer from Scottsdale Community College, will also accompany the squad. Winter was named to the NJCAA players to watch list in 2015 and ranked eighth in conference with 0.98 blocks per set and a hitting percentage of .318. El Paso native Idalis Rodriguez is among the incoming freshmen who will be joining the 2015 team. She’s accompanied by Maddie Morgan, Ashley Grzebeniak, Niki Cebak, and Ali Vidali.

Ambitious Lindsey Larson was honored for her performance in the classroom and on the court, as she was named to the 2014 Conference USA All-Academic Volleyball Team. One out of four sophomores highlighted on last year’s team, Larson sports a 3.87 GPA in civil engineering. The setter is a two time C-USA Commissioner’s Academic Medalist and has appeared on the C-USA honor roll from 2012-2014. On the court, the Canadian native led the Miners with 920 assists to rank ninth overall in conference. She registered 11 double-doubles, including 15 matches with 30 or more assists, and three with 30 or more assists. Larson collected a career-best 55 assists against FIU (11/7/14), serving the Miners their first home victory of the 2014 season

Standout Coline Coessens was named to the 2014 Conference USA All-Freshman Team. The outside hitter saw action in 95 sets and started in 26 matches last year. Playing all six rotations, she led the Orange and Blue in points (325), kills (279) and service aces (19). The Belgium native tallied a team-high nine double-double performances and chipped in 224 digs, 43 total blocks and 16 assists. She registered two matches with 20 or more kills and led UTEP in kills in 13 matches last season. Coessens became the first Miner to accomplish the feat since Jeane Horton and Melissa Toth in 2010. She was also the first All-Freshman honor in head coach Holly Watts’s tenure

Talia Jones was a strong asset at the outside hitter position, leading the team in serving aces in 2014. Jones recorded 21 serving aces averaging 0.24 serving aces per set. She ranked second on the team with 216 kills and third with 246.5 points. The junior registered nine showings with 10 or more kills and hammered a career-best 21 kills and 22 points in the victory against FIU (11/7/14). Jones delivered another career-best 10 digs against TCU (9/29/14).

Coline Coessens and Lindsey Larson led the Miners across the court last year, tallying 20 combined double doubles.  Larson paced the team with 11 double-doubles including a career-high 55 assists against FIU (11/7/14). The sophomore incorporated 15 matches with 30 or more assists and three with 50 or more assists. UTEP’s starting setter boasted 920 assists, 227 digs, 99.0 points, 72 total blocks and 53 kills last year. Coessens followed close behind with nine double-doubles including a career-high 25 kills against UAB (10/10/14) in leading the Miners to victory and ranking 10th most kills in a C-USA match in 2014. Defensively, the freshman recorded a career-high 18 digs versus FIU (11/7/14) and added 43 blocks (11s/32) and 16 assists.

Defending Conference USA volleyball champion WKU has been tabbed as the 2015 C-USA Volleyball preseason favorite, as voted by the league’s 13 head coaches. The C-USA Player of the Year from a year ago, Carnae Dillard of North Texas, was picked as the preseason Player of the Year. Last year in C-USA play, WKU’s went 15-1 on the way to a regular season title. UTSA is picked to finish second in the league, while the Miners are slated to place 11th.

Head coach Holly Watts has said during fall camp that she would love to see her team improve upon their serving and serve reception. Last year, UTEP allowed opposing teams to collect 145 aces. On the flipside, the Orange and Blue only registered 101 aces all year long to 151 service errors. On the receiving end, the Miners reception percentage was .936; that is a number the team must improve upon.

COESSENS CONTROLS IT ALLPacing both UTEP’s offense and defense in 2014, stud freshman Coline Coessens dominated on the court in her first season with the Orange and Blue. She topped the team with 325 points, 279 kills, and 19 service aces. In 2014, she boasted the second-most aces by a freshman in Conference USA. The outside hitter also tallied 10 double-double performances on the season having recorded 224 digs. Playing all rotations, Coessens registered 43 blocks (11s/32a) and 16 assists.

UTEP volleyball has featured 13 student-athletes from Texas on its roster in the past six years. It’s a testament to the youth, club and high school volleyball in the state. Currently the Miners have two Texas natives in the form of Idalis Rodriguez and Sarah Villa. Both Rodriguez and Villa are hometown talents from the Sun City.

Author: UTEP Atheletics