The UTEP volleyball team (2-1) closed out the Wildcats Classic with a victory over Pacific (1-2) in a five-set reverse sweep, 3-2 (22-25, 18-25, 25-16, 25-20, 15-9) Saturday afternoon.
Story VIA UTEP Athletics
Hula Crisostomo and Serena Patterson were named to the All-Tournament team.
The Miners had two players hit double-digit kills: Serena Patterson (19) and Torrance Lovesee (13). Hande Yetis led the team with 28 assists, while Mattie Gantt recorded 21. Hula Crisostomo tallied 16 digs while Sara Pustahija recorded 14.
The Miners out blocked the Tigers 10:7 and while hitting .316. The Tigers only hit .182. UTEP had 11 service aces, including three each from Pustahija and Vittoria Price.
“It was a lot of fun to coach,” head coach Ben Wallis said. “Even when we were down in the first two sets, we were just finding ways to shoot ourselves in the foot and all I kept talking to our team about was let’s just find ways to string points together.”
“So, we were just going back and forth, but then Pacific was going on little bitty point runs, and they’ve got two really good small outside hitters that will carve you up if your hands are not in the right place,” Wallis said.
SET ONE | The Miners and Tigers put up an intense first set that consisted of nine tied scores and four lead changes. Pacific claimed the lead mid set as a kill by Biamba Kabengele tied up the set, 15-15. At Pacific’s set point and five-point lead, the Miners’ comeback attempt fell short as a Miner error locked the set win for the Tigers, 25-22.
SET TWO | Pacific’s momentum from the previous set pushed them into another set victory of 25-18. The Tigers put up three aces and 13 kills against the Miners.
SET THREE | Coach Wallis’ lineup-change in the third set proved victorious. “I put Torrance (Lovesee) on the left and moved SP (Patterson) to the right and put two pretty physical outside hitters out there hitting against their smaller blocker and SP (Patterson) going to the right is nasty for people because she’s so versatile,” Wallis said. The Miners gave the Tigers a taste of their own medicine replicating their momentum from the second set for their own advantage. UTEP put up all six aces of the set. Patterson put up eight kills and the squad had an impressive hitting percentage of .500.
SET FOUR | A heated fourth set brought out an intense exchange of points between the Miners and Tigers. As the Tigers looked to stop the Miners, UTEP looked to force a fifth set. The two teams had only a single 3-0 scoring run each leading up to mid-set right before Pacific called its first timeout as UTEP was up 14-13. The Miners gained a three-point advantage forcing another Pacific timeout at 19-16. UTEP ran with the lead and rattled the competition as an attack error from Pacific’s Sedona Sherman secured the another set win for the Miners, 25-20.
SET FIVE | A fired-up UTEP squad took a quick 9-1 lead with the help of three aces from Pustahija. Pacific drove a 7-1 run from blocks and kills to close in on the Miners, 10-8. The Miners allowed Pacific their final point due to an attack error, but that didn’t stop them from shredding a few more kills to lock in the match win, 15-9.
Final Thought from Coach Wallis
“We just got nasty everywhere, and Ema Uskokovic went into the game and stopped their outside hitters, and that’s the nice part about this team. I’ve got 20 players on our roster that can help us win. And I keep telling them that from the beginning of the preseason, all the way until this weekend, if I can just make the right choices with the lineup and we can be a chameleon and morph into whatever we need to morph into it that match against that team, we’re going to be fine. And that’s exactly what happened. I just had to make a couple of lineup adjustments and all of a sudden in 3-4-5 we looked like a completely different team and we just jumped on them physically. It was really fun and I think that Pacific team is going to do really well in their conference. They just bring thunder all the time. And you got to rise to the challenge. And we did, in 3-4-5, and I was really proud of our team for coming back and being salty. We could have once again; we could have pouted and felt sorry for ourselves because I was chewing out some butts in the at the end of the second about being more competitive and being nastier, and they did it. They responded. And I’m proud of my group.”