The UTEP volleyball team came out strong in the opening set Friday night, but Western Kentucky defeated the Miners, 3-0 (29-27, 25-10, 25-18) in Memorial Gym.
On offense, 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.
The thrilling first frame saw nine tied scores and four lead changes. The teams were going back and forth early in the period before a 6-0 run put the Miners up, 8-4. WKU called the first timeout after coming within one point of UTEP’s lead, 18-17. After the break, a kill by Taylor Dellinger from WKU sparked the back and forth battle between the Lady Toppers and the Miners. The score tied six more times and went into extra points but the visitors claimed the first point of the match with a 29-27 victory.
Austin scored the first point of the second stanza but the Lady Toppers rallied back to take a 7-3 lead, forcing UTEP to call its first timeout. The Miners scored four more points before head coach Holly Watts called for a second timeout on the court but at that point, WKU was ahead, 18-6. The Orange and Blue was unable to recover from the deficit and WKU went into the intermission with a 25-10 victory in the set and a 2-0 match-lead.
UTEP showed that it could regain some momentum after the tough second set as it tied the third period, 4-4. However, WKU would go on a 3-0 run and never looked back. The Miners called the first timeout of the frame as WKU was ahead, 21-15. After regrouping, UTEP scored three more points but it was too late as the Lady Toppers won the third set, 25-18 and the match, 3-0.
The Miners will return to Memorial Gym on Sunday to take on Rice for the second time this season at 12 p.m. (MT).