DENTON, Texas- After coming out of the gates racing and winning set one, the UTEP volleyball team fell to Montana 3-1 in the season opener at the North Texas Invitational in Denton, Texas on Friday.
Briana Arellano paced the Miners’ offensive efforts, hammering down ten kills while adding six digs and a block. True-freshman Mallory Yost contributed to the effort with nine kills of her own out of 13 total attempts, hitting at a .615 clip. Setter Amanda King dished out 27 assists and registered four kills.
The six-rotation player also added five digs. Defensively, senior libero Dania Orozco led the Orange and Blue with 11 digs.
The Miners totaled 38 kills, 33 assists, 29 digs and 7 total team blocks, compared to Montana’s 55 kill, 46 assist, 25 dig and 8 total team block effort on the match.
Set one began with both teams matching the other’s points, starting with a kill by Yost that was mirrored by the Grizzlies’ Mykaela Hammer. Yost and Hammer had the first two points for their respective teams before another UTEP true freshman, Cheyenne Jones, registered a kill and Montana had an attack error, bringing the score to 4-2.
The Miners kept the Grizzlies stunned at three points while the Miners’ point total climbed to seven, helped by a kill by King from Orozco’s assist.
Montana would climb back into the game, but did not have see their first lead over the Miners until an assist error by King gave the Grizzlies the 13-12 advantage. It would not last for long, however, as Arellano’s kill helped set up a Jones’ service ace. Three-consecutive Miner kills, the first by Macey Austin, followed by Arellano, then Kylie Baumgartner, brought the team up 17-15. UTEP would hold on to that lead to take set one 25-22.
Set two began again with the Miners scoring first with a kill by Yost. The Miners held a 5-2 advantage and controlled the tempo in the set before the Grizzlies began to keep up. Montana then grabbed their first lead of the match after a service error by Orozco, bringing the score to 11-10.
The Orange and Blue would capitalize on three consecutive attack errors by the Grizzlies, beginning with a block assist by Baumgartner and Jones to shake up the opponent, to tie the game at 16-all. Kills by Baumgartner and King, followed by another attack error by Montana forced the Grizzles to call a timeout to talk things over. That would help freeze the Miner momentum, as Montana regained the lead 21-20.
With the Miners fighting for the 2-0 set advantage and the Grizzlies looking to even up the sets at 1-1, the two teams battled back and forth before the game was tied at 24-24 due to a kill by Montana’s Janna Grimsrud, extending the set. A kill by Yost brought the Miners within a point of winning, but a Grizzly block, then a Montana service error kept the match going at 26-25, UTEP.
Hammer knocked down a kill and an assist error helped Montana to the 27-26 lead, which was then finished at 28-26 after a kill by Montana’s Baily Permann.
That would be the final frame the Miners held control, as a fired-up Montana team took set three 25-13, and set four 25-14.
The Miners, who were a last-minute entry in the North Texas Invitational after Hurricane Harvey forced the cancellation of the I-10 Cardinals Classic, will look to even their record when they face former Western Athletic Conference and Conference USA foe Tulsa. First serve against the Hurricane is set for 10 a.m. at the North Texas Volleyball Center in Denton, Texas.