SAN ANTONIO, Tx – Macey Austin’s 24-kill performance helped the Miners prevent a sweep, but it was not enough as the UTSA Roadrunners defeated the Miners 3-2 in a Conference USA match at the Convocation Center in San Antonio.
The Roadrunners took the first two sets 25-16 and 25-17, respectively, before the Miners responded with a thrilling 26-24 set three victory. UTEP would stay alive with a 25-17 set four win to force the decisive set, but the Roadrunners paved their way to a 15-8 set five victory to take the match 3-2.
The Miners are now 1-2 in C-USA, 4-12 overall, while the Roadrunners improved to 2-1 in C-USA play and 4-11 overall.
“We showed amazing fight and perseverance,” head coach Holly Watts said. “After playing our way into a corner, we were determined to take charge of our future.”
Austin led the UTEP offensive effort with her 24 kills, three shy of her career-high 27. Briana Arellano tallied eight kills of her own while Mallory Yost followed with seven. Arellano also served up three aces to lead the team. Amanda King took the assist load with 34, while Niki Cebak manned the Miner defense with 16 digs while Ashley Grzebeniak added 11. Maddie Morgan recorded the lone solo block of the match while also teaming up for two block assists and Yost and King both had five block assists.
The Miners ended the match with 50 kills, 48 assists, six service aces, 58 digs, 16 block assists and one solo block. The Roadrunners recorded 68 kills, 62 assists, eight service aces, 68 digs and 16 block assists.
UTSA handled the first two sets before the Miners stopped a potential sweep with a thrilling 26-24 win. UTEP tied the set 13 times before Morgan showed-out with a kill and block and UTSA’s Kara Teal recorded an attack error to end the set 26-24.
Riding on that momentum, the Miners came out to a commanding 10-3 lead in set four behind three kills from Austin, one apiece from Arellano, King and Morgan and two service aces from Arellano. UTSA would make a small run before three consecutive UTEP kills, beginning with one by Yost and ended with two by Austin, prompted a Roadrunner timeout with UTEP holding the 15-8 lead. Out of the timeout, UTSA’s Brianna Mcculloch recorded a kill, but UTEP would score five unanswered points behind back-to-back block assists by Morgan and King, kills by Austin and King and a Yost service ace to jump to a 20-9 lead. Set four’s momentum stayed in the Miners’ favor as UTSA was only able to score eight more points before Arellano’s kill put the set away 25-17 to force a fifth set.
Set five saw UTSA regain control of the match, jumping out to a 10-3 lead from multiple 3-0 runs before the Miners were able to respond. UTEP was able to capitalize on two Roadrunner errors and an Arellano service ace before UTSA notched a kill to end the set 15-8 and the match 3-2.
The Miners will return to action Friday, Oct. 6, when they take on Charlotte in Charlotte, N.C. First serve is set for 4 p.m. (MT).