Photo: UTEP Athletics
The UTEP volleyball team (4-14, 2-3 C-USA) will take on a pair of road matches this weekend.
First the Miners will face North Texas (9-11, 3-2 C-USA) on Friday at 6 p.m. (MT) in Denton and then the squad will travel to San Antonio for its second matchup of the season against UTSA (12-4, 3-1 C-USA).
The Orange and Blue split a pair of matches last weekend by picking up its first sweep of the season on Friday against Charlotte and falling to Southern Miss on Sunday in straight sets. Both matches were played in Memorial Gym.
UTEP vs. North Texas:
UTEP vs. UTSA:
UTEP vs. North Texas: http://conferenceusa.com/
SCOUTING NORTH TEXAS
SERIES: Friday’s match will mark the 16th meeting between the Miners and the Mean Green. North Texas holds the series advantage with a 7-8 mark over UTEP.
MEAN GREEN NOTABLES
North Texas is 9-11 overall and 3-2 in conference action this season. The Mean Green is coming into the match with wins against Louisiana Tech (3-0) and UAB (3-1). North Texas’ offense is led by middle blocker Amanda Chamberlain. The junior has registered a total of 204 kills while hitting at a .387 clip. Chamberlain is also third on the team in blocks with 49 total (6s/43a) and adds nine digs.
Setters Karley York and Amy Henard have reached triple-digits with 513 and 282 total assists, respectively. North Texas has a total of 1,052 digs and is led by freshman LekaLeka Kiner-Falefa with219 digs so far this season. Junior Alexis Wright paces the team with 60 blocks (6s/54a) followed by Jordyn Williams with 50 blocks (7s/43a).
SERIES: Sunday’s meeting will mark the 39th match between the Miners and Roadrunners, with the Miners holding off the ‘Runners 21-17. In the last meeting between the two Conference USA foes, the Miners’ efforts fell short as the Roadrunners won the match in five sets (22-25, 21-25, 25-14, 25-21, 10-15). UTSA is currently on a seven-game winning streak against the Miners since 2012
UTSA is 3-1 in conference, 12-4 overall. The Roadrunners face Middle Tennessee in C-USA play on Oct. 14. The Runners faced off against Marshall on Oct. 9 where they fell 2-3. Leading Roadrunners are outside hitters Dajana Boskovic and Marijeta Runjic.
Boskovic boats 270 kills (4.66/set) and has accumulated 305.5 points. Boskovic has also been named C-USA Player of the Week three times this season. Runjic has tallied 199 kills in 62 sets played (3.21/set) and has a 2.61 hitting percentage. Defensively, sophomore Shelby Williams is pacing the Runners with 191 digs (2.22/set). The defensive specialist recorded 11 digs against Marshall.
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 155 kills while adding 24 digs, 18 blocks, two service aces and an assist on the season. Ali Vidali follows in suit. Her totals include, 66 kills, 28 digs, four blocks, three assists and two service aces.
Briana Arellano has also proved to be force on the court with 134 digs, 42 kills, 12 service aces, five blocks and five assists. Niki Cebak has also made contributions of her own with 77 total digs, 11 service aces and 11 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 (346) and service aces (16). She owns a second-best ranking in digs (193), kills (146) and total blocks (57). Sophomore Ashley Grzebeniak is from Winnipeg, Manitoba and provides the Miners with a powerful swing. She has racked up a total of 77 kills, 49 digs, 13 blocks (1s/12a), two service aces and an 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 77 digs and 11 assists.
Setter 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 13 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 69 blocks (8s/61a), which is more than she registered in the entire 2015 season (51 total blocks). She currently ranks sixth in Conference USA with 1.06 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. 12, the team is 38th in the nation with 16.33 digs per set.
Sarah Villa has made a major contribution to the team’s current ranking, standing at ninth in the nation with 5.31 digs per set. UTEP registered 94 digs in its victory over Bradley (9/3) and its performance earned the 29th spot for most digs in a four-set match.
Lindsey Larson also cracks the national rankings as she is tied for third 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 12th spot for hitting percentage in a single match.