Photo: UTEP Athletics
The UTEP volleyball squad will go on the road this week as the Miners travel to Ruston, La., to face off against LA Tech (10-15, 1-8 C-USA) at 6 p.m. (MT) on Friday before taking on Middle Tennessee (5-20, 2-8 C-USA) in Murfreesboro, Tenn. on Sunday at 12 p.m. (MT).
Last week, UTEP (4-18, 2-7 C-USA) fell short in both home matches played at Memorial Gym. The Orange and Blue lost, 0-3, to Western Kentucky on Friday and 1-3 against Rice on Sunday.
Against the Lady Toppers, senior setter Lindsey Larson connected for 22 assists and Macey Austin dished out a team-leading 12 kills. Larson finished second on the team with five total kills while Maddie Morgan and Ali Vidali recorded four kills each. Amanda King also contributed 10 assists to the Miner’s offensive efforts.
Sarah Villa led the defense with 12 digs while Briana Arellano and Larson finished with nine digs each. Four Miners (Kylie Baumgartner, Tatum Winter, Morgan and Larson) each recorded a block from the net.
As a team the Miner’s totals included 41 digs, 34 kills, 34 assists, four blocks and two service aces.
Macey Austin once again paced the Orange and Blue’s offensive efforts versus the Owls with a match-high 13 kills while adding a dig and a block. Ashley Grzebeniak followed with eight kills and added four digs and a block.
Lindsey Larson registered 18 assists and 15 digs for a double-double and also contributed with five kills and two service aces. Sarah Villa’s totals included 18 digs and six assists whileAmanda King reached 14 assists and four digs.
The Miners totaled 52 digs, 40 kills, 39 assists, seven blocks and two service aces while Rice notched 70 digs, 58 kills, 53 assists, 14 blocks and three service aces on the match.
UTEP vs. LA Tech:
UTEP vs. Middle Tennessee:
UTEP vs. LA Tech: http://conferenceusa.com/
UTEP vs. Middle Tennessee: http://conferenceusa.com/
SCOUTING LA TECH
Series: This will be the 15th meeting between the two Conference USA opponents. The Miners lead the all-time series over LA Tech with an 8-6 advantage entering Friday’s matchup. The Lady Techsters are currently 10-15 overall and 1-8 in C-USA action. LA Tech is coming off a four-game losing streak; recently falling to FIU, 3-1 (25-15, 25-21, 19-25, 25-17) on Oct. 23.
LADY TECHSTER NOTABLES
Angela Papach leads LA Tech’s offense with a total of 305 kills (3.28 kills per set). The senior right-side hitter registered a team-high 18 kills against FIU. She also boasts 169 total digs, tallied 351.0 points, and 22 service aces, and is sitting at No. 9 in conference for kills.
Brooke Short, a junior setter from Murrieta, Calif., totals 893 assists, as well as 200 digs. Marta Monne, outside hitter, recorded a double-double with 13 kills and 10 digs against the Panthers. Monne has registered 244 kills, 254 digs, and 264.5 points.
SCOUTING MIDDLE TENNESSEE
Series: UTEP is 4-0 against the Blue Raiders and this will be the fifth meeting between the two Conference USA opponents. Middle Tennessee played UAB on Oct. 23 where the Blue Raiders’ efforts fell short as UAB claimed a 3-1 win. Middle Tennessee is now 5-20 overall, 2-8 in C-USA play.
BLUE RAIDERS NOTABLES
Middle Tennessee has a team hitting percentage of .140 and 999 kills. The Blue Raiders offense is paced by sophomore outside hitter Regan Coughlin, Bloomington, Ill. Coughlin has hammered 220 kills (2.53 per set), and contributes to defense with 230 digs.
Junior setter Jacqueline Lux has accumulated 781 assists, while adding 196 digs. Defensively, freshman libero Meg Irvin sets the pace with a total of 326 digs this season in 90 sets (3.62 per set). Irvin is ranked No. 10 in C-USA for digs.
Delaney Gallager, sophomore middle-blocker from Nashville, Tenn., contributes the most blocks with 56 total, while also registering the most service aces (22).
A NEW PRESENCE
This year’s Miner squad has a mix of youth and experience as the newcomers are providing impact along with the veteran members of the team. Freshmen Macey Austin has seen action in 75 sets, Briana Arellano in 70, Niki Cebak has participated in 69 sets and Ali Vidali has played in 37. Newcomer Amanda King is the only newcomer this season who has taken the court in all 82 sets this season.
BACK ON TOP
Senior defensive specialist and El Paso native, Sarah Villa made her way back to the top of the C-USA charts this week. The libero is first in the league with 5.15 digs per set and has a total of 422 digs on the season. LA Tech’s Alejandra Aviles follows with an average of 4.68 digs per set.
FILLING IN THE SHOES
UTEP’s freshmen have been making quite the splash in its first weeks of action. Macey Austin leads the UTEP pack with a team-best 200 kills while adding 32 digs, 19 blocks, two service aces and an assist on the season. Ali Vidali follows in suit with totals including, 71 kills, 30 digs, four blocks, three assists and two service aces.
Briana Arellano has also proved to be force on the court with 157 digs, 43 kills, 15 service aces, five blocks and five assists. Niki Cebak has also made contributions of her own with 99 total digs, 11 service aces and 14 assists.
Canada is well represented on the Miners’ squad this season. Three athletes (Lindsey Larson, Ashley Grzebeniak and Niki Cebak) on the roster are natives of the country and have made a tremendous impact since their arrival at UTEP. Lindsey Larson is a product of Humboldt, Saskatchewan and is the Orange and Blue’s strongest weapon with 2016 totals including a team-best in assists (409) and service aces (21).
She owns a second-best team ranking in digs (232), kills (170) and total blocks (65). Sophomore Ashley Grzebeniak is from Winnipeg, Manitoba and provides the Miners with a powerful swing. She has racked up a total of 96 kills, 64 digs, 16 blocks (1s/15a), six service aces and two assists so far this season.
Redshirt freshman Niki Cebak is the final Canada representative from Airdrie, Alberta. The defensive specialist has a petite appearance, but has shown to have a powerful swing from the serving line with 11 service aces this season. Cebak’s other totals include 99 digs and 14 assists.
Senior Lindsey Larson has made it a habit to reach double-digits in various categories in UTEP’s matches. She has reached a double-double in 14 of the Miners’ matches so far this season, which include five triple-doubles. She is second in conference in total double-doubles but she is the only one in the league to reach a triple-double.
Amanda King is second on the team with a total of five double-doubles and Ashley Grzebeniak has notched one on the season.
Sophomore Kylie Baumgartner has been a force at the net all season and leads the squad with a total of 80 blocks (12s/68a), which is more than she registered in the entire 2015 season (51 total blocks). She currently ranks seventh in Conference USA with 1.01 blocks per set. The California native, matched her career-high 10 blocks in a 3-2 win over UAB (9/25), which places her third in the league for most blocks in a five-set match.
ANALYZING THE DEPTH
UTEP has the most depth in the outside position with a total of six outside hitters. The Miners returned Ashley Grzebeniak who brings a year of experience. Ali Vidali is a redshirt freshman who sat out the 2015 season due to a wrist injury. Vidali is joined by El Paso native Briana Arellano and Macey Austin from Fort Worth, Texas who bring tremendous size and power as incoming freshmen.
At the middle blocker position, the Miners returned senior Tatum Winter and sophomores Kylie Baumgartner and Maddie Morgan. Baumgartner was named to the C-USA All-Freshman team in 2015 after tallying 128 total blocks, 165 kills and 20 digs in her breakout season.
Senior setter Lindsey Larson is a key cornerstone as a six-rotation player. In 2015, she led the team with 1,064 assists and 35 service aces while finishing second in digs (369) and blocks (11s/93a). Larson not only works hard on the court but on her studies as well.
She is a four-time member of the C-USA Commissioner’s Honor Roll, three-time C-USA Commissioner’s Academic Medalist and a two-time C-USA All-Academic Team selection. Junior transfer Amanda King will also bring depth at the setter position this season.
On defense, UTEP returned Sarah Villa, an El Paso native who was the starting libero for the majority of the 2015 season. As a junior, Villa set the C-USA record for digs in an individual match with 45 in a five-set battle against Southern Miss. The Miners also have Dania Orozco and Niki Cebak. Orozco is also from El Paso but played two years at New Mexico Military Institute as the libero.
Lindsey Larson is one of four in the nation with five or more triple-doubles this season and is the only one in C-USA to reach one. Larson notched her first triple-double of her career as she led the UTEP squad to a 3-1 victory over Bradley (9/3). She totaled 25 assists, 17 digs and 10 kills while adding four blocks and a service ace. She recorded two more at the UT-Arlington Invitational. Against Samford (9/16), the senior notched 22 assists, 13 kills, 11 digs and three blocks and versus UT-Arlington (9/17) her totals included 27 assists, 11 digs and 10 kills.
In the league opener (9/23), Larson totaled 22 assists, 18 digs and 12 kills while forcing Rice to five sets. In the victory over UAB (9/25), she recorded a career-high in digs and blocks with 28 and eight, respectively and added 10 kills and three service aces.
MINERS IN THE NATIONAL RANKINGS
The Miners have made their way back into the national rankings in various categories this season. According to the NCAA rankings that were updated on Oct. 25, Sarah Villa is 19th in the nation with 5.15 digs per set.
Lindsey Larson also cracks the national rankings as she is tied for fourth in the nation for total triple-doubles. Larson has registered a total of five triple-doubles on the season, trailing the top spot by only two.
Sophomore Maddie Morgan had an outstanding performance in a 3-1 victory over South Dakota State (9/3) in the preseason. She notched a .700 clip on 14 kills and is tied for the 14th spot for hitting percentage in a single match.