The UTEP volleyball team (15-5, 4-3 Conference USA) falls to UAB (9-10, 4-3 C-USA), 3-2 (25-19, 26-24, 21-25, 24-26, 15-11) Friday evening at Memorial Gym. The Blazers ended UTEP’s 4-0 home streak in five sets played.
UTEP had three players reach double-digit kills, Alianza Darley (17), Serena Patterson (16) and Ema Uskokovic (15). Hande Yetis achieved 23 assists while Kristen Fritsche tallied 22. On the defense, Paulina Perez Rosas set the pace with 15 digs and Alyssa Sianez followed with 13 digs. Yetis recorded 11 digs for a double-double.
The Miners totaled nine blocks and six service aces.
“We started every set too slow and that got us too far behind; you just can’t start sets like that and expect to beat anybody,” head coach Ben Wallis said. “UAB did a really good job on the backset tonight and we didn’t have an answer for them. They were able to backset a bunch and get a desired result and we have to do something about that; I have to make sure I put us in a better position tomorrow.”
UTEP got off to a slow start in the first set and was unable to tied up the score or produce a lead change. As the Blazers approached set point, the Miners attempted to rally with a 8-0 scoring run but were no match for UAB’s defense and lost the set, 25-19.
After 13 tied scores in the second set, the Miners rallied to take the lead 20-19. UTEP headed into set point with UAB trailing by three points. The Blazers rallied with a 5-0 scoring run to win the set and take a 2-0 advantage in the match, 26-24.
Similarly, the third set consisted of an intense exchange of points. The Miners stopped the Blazers and took off with a 5-0 scoring run to win the set, 25-21, and landed a spot on the board.
Both teams turned up the heat in the fourth set as UAB looked to end the match while UTEP sought out a set win to lock in a fifth set. Another back-and-forth set led the Miners into set point once again. A kill by Kenidy Howard gave the Miners the advantage, but an attack error on the Blazers would go on to win the set for the Orange and Blue, 26-24.
Getting into the fifth set, the Miners gained some steam with a kill by Perez Rosas to tie up the score, 6-6. The Blazers went on a 5-0 scoring run to pull ahead and continued with the advantage. With no errors, UAB took the set and won the match, 15-11.
“They earned their victory and we’re licking our wounds in our first loss at home this year,” Wallis said.
The Miners look to split the second match against the Blazers Saturday (Oct. 23) at 12 p.m. MT at Memorial Gym. Tickets are $8. The match-up will be streamed on CUSA.tv, with live stats available.
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