The UTEP Volleyball team (9-10, 2-4) defeated FIU (9-9, 2-4) in four sets (12-25, 25-19, 25-23, 25-20), 3-1, on Friday evening in Miami.
The Orange and Blue enjoyed their first victory at FIU in program history, and their first win in the state of Florida since 2012.
UTEP was carried by the stellar play of Serena Patterson, who locked in 13 kills on a .353 hitting clip and collected 10 digs. Cheyenne Jones also added 12 kills on a scorching-hot .360 hitting percentage. Jessica Landeros produced the best match of her young career with 10 kills at a .438 rate. Kenidy Howard led the defense with six blocks, and Alex Torres locked in 13 digs for the Miners.
The Panthers were 7-1 at home before this match, and UTEP now has a 3-4 record on the road.
The Golden Panthers earned a wire-to-wire victory over the Miners in the first set, winning the opening game 25-12 on their home court.
UTEP flipped the script, going on a 5-1 run to start the second game. FIU would get back within one, 20-19, but the Orange and Blue scored the next five points to even up the set count at 1-1.
The two teams were going back-and-forth the entire third frame. UTEP pulled away late, 22-19, forcing a timeout by FIU. However, the Panthers would come out on fire, rallying with four-straight points. The Orange and Blue did not fold, and went on a 3-0 run to take the set, 25-23.
UTEP rode this momentum into the fourth set, dominating its way to a 25-20 victory to claim the frame and the match.
Coach Wallis’s Thoughts
“My comments to them before the match were can you win on the road when you don’t have your best volleyball? That is really what happened tonight. It was good foreshadowing for them because we got crushed in the first set. We didn’t pay attention to the scouting report and by being bad communicators. I went to the other side and challenged them. I got on a couple of the girls about some things, and we started executing. We had a good plan and we knew what we wanted to do against them. Serena (Patterson) was really big in sets two and three. We started passing and digging it better. They have two special athletes on their team. We held them in check, and that was awesome for us. Mallory (Yost) and Kenidy (Howard) did a really nice job of slowing them down. They got frustrated and made some hitting errors. We did not relent at all. We got beat around in the first set, and we won not playing our best volleyball. Landeros played really well again. She is a walk-on outside hitter who went 10 kills on 16 swings, hitting .438 and blocked three balls. That was incredible and it was big time for her. Really proud of her effort and it is a testament to everybody on our team that if you work hard and play the right way then I will play you. Very proud of what she did tonight in just her second match of her career.”
Next up, the Miners will play at Florida Atlantic on Sunday, October 20 at 10 a.m. MT.