The UTEP volleyball team will close out the 2016 season with a non-conference matchup against I-10 rival, NM State on Wednesday. The first serve of the match is scheduled for 1 p.m. MT at Memorial Gym.
Although senior night was celebrated earlier in the season (Nov. 06), this match will serve as the senior’s (Lindsey Larson, Sarah Villa and Tatum Winter) last contest of their careers at UTEP.
Last week, the team put up a great effort against the no. 1 seeded Western Kentucky in the quarterfinal round of the 2016 C-USA Volleyball Championships in Houston, Texas, but fell to the Lady Toppers in three sets (19-25, 23-25, 24-26).
The squad was led by Winter who notched eight kills at a .375 hitting percentage, two blocks, two digs and a service ace. Macey Austin paced UTEP with nine total kills while Larson registered a double-double with 27 assists and 12 digs while adding six kills and two blocks.
UTEP vs. NM STATE:
SCOUTING NM STATE
Series: Wednesday’s non-conference matchup will be the 83rd meeting for the I-10 rivals, with the Aggies holding the win margin 61-22. NM State swept the Miners in three sets in the first meeting earlier this year (10/5). The Miners have not beaten the Aggies since a five-set thriller in 2012.
The Aggies were voted by league coaches in the preseason to win the Western Athletic Conference this season and achieved the regular-season title with a five-set victory over Chicago State. NM State went onto host the 2016 WAC tournament in hopes to defend the WAC tournament crown. However, the Aggies were defeated by the no. 5 seeded UT-Rio Grande Valley, 3-2.
NM State will look to Jordan Abalos, Ariadnne Sierra and Tatyana Battle, who recently earned WAC Player of the Week honors (Nov. 7). Abalos leads the team with 413 kills (3.75 kills/set) and Battle is close behind with 369 (3.32 kills/set). Sierra paces the squad in digs. (4.56 digs/set).
Five Miners have reached triple-digit kills so far this season. Macey Austin is first on the team with a total of 268 kills but Lindsey Larson follows with a total of 214 kills. Ashley Grzebeniak and Tatum Winter are tied for third on the squad with 143 kills while Kylie Baumgartner totaled 133. Maddie Morgan and Briana Arellano are relatively close to reaching triple-digit kills as well. Morgan needs three kills and Arellano would need five kills to reach the 100-kill mark in 2016.
Senior Lindsey Larson is a six-rotation player and is UTEP’s strongest weapon on the court this season. She is first on the team in assists (611) and service aces (24) and second on the squad in digs (302), kills (214), blocks (86) and points (284.0).
TRIPLE DIGIT HEAT
Five Miners have joined the triple-digit dig club so far this season. Senior Sarah Villa paves the way for the UTEP squad with an impressive 527 digs in 2016. Fellow classmate Lindsey Larson follows with a total of 302 digs so far. Three of the UTEP players that have reached triple-digit digs are newcomers (Briana Arellano, Amanda King and Niki Cebak). Arellano totals 205 digs, King has 186 and Cebak tallied 148 total digs.
Sophomore Kylie Baumgartner has been a force at the net all season and leads the squad with a total of 107 blocks (18s/89 a). She currently ranks sixth in Conference USA with 1.01 blocks per set. The California native, reached a career-high 12 blocks in a 3-1 win over Florida Atlantic (11/6), which places her first in the league for most blocks in a four-set match and second for most blocks in a single match this season.
Villa is an El Paso native who arrived at UTEP in 2013 after graduating from Burges High School. In her first season, Villa saw action in 66 sets and 21 matches. Her totals included 117 digs, 14 assists, five service aces and three kills. In 2014, Villa took the court for 90 sets in a total of 28 matches. The defensive specialist registered 265 digs, 35 assists, six service aces and a kill. 2015 was Villa’s breakout season where she earned her spot as the starting libero for the Miners for the first time in her career.
She played in 100 sets and 28 matches for UTEP and nearly doubled her total digs from the previous season. She notched 434 digs at 4.34 digs per set, 65 assists, nine service aces and four kills on the season.
Villa also set a Conference USA record for most digs in a single match with a striking 45 digs while taking Southern Miss to five sets in Hattiesburg, Miss. (10/23). During her senior season, Villa has seen action in 105 sets and 29 matches. Her totals include 527 digs, 97 assists, 15 service aces and seven kills.
Throughout her career, Villa has tallied 1,343 total digs which puts her second in the UTEP record book for most career digs. She trails the record-holder, Jennifer Abbruzzese, by only 25 digs. Abbruzzese played for the Miners from 2000-2003 and notched a total of 1,368 digs in her career. Recently, Villa was named to C-USA’s All-Conference Second Team.
Winter arrived as junior transfer from Scottsdale Community College in 2015. In her debut as a Miner, the middle blocker saw action in 65 sets and 23 matches with 14 starting appearances. The Gilbert, Ariz. native, finished fourth on the team with 61 (3s/58a) total blocks. Winter also tallied 80 kills, 32 digs, four service aces and an assist. Winter has taken the court in 105 sets and 29 matches in 2016 as senior. Her totals include, 79 blocks (11s/68a), 143 kills, 61 digs, 10 assists and nine service aces.
Larson arrived at UTEP in 2012 and redshirted her first season. In 2013, she made her debut in a Miner uniform as she participated in 97 sets and 28 matches on the season. She totaled 126 kills, 72 digs, 51 assists, 51 blocks (3s/48a) and four service aces. In 2014, Larson took the role of the starting setter for the Miners and fulfilled the role immaculately. She notched 920 assists at a career-best 8.93 assists per set and tabbed 227 digs, 72 blocks (2s/68a), 53 kills and eight service aces.
Before the 2015 season began, Larson earned a spot on the 2015 Canada National Team, which she trained with during the summer. She played in 121 sets and 32 matches during her junior season.
The product of Humbolt, Saskatchewan, Canada, finished the 2015 season with 1,064 assists, 369 digs, 108 kills, 104 blocks (11s/93a) and 35 service aces. During the 2016 season, Larson has picked up 611 assists, 302 digs, 214 kills, 86 (6s/80a) and 24 service aces while playing in 108 sets and 29 matches.
Throughout her career, the setter has totaled 2,646 assists, 970 digs, 501 kills, 313 blocks and 71 service aces. Larson has also reached a double-double on 46 occasions including five triple-doubles.
Most recently, Larson was named to C-USA’s 2016 All-Conference Second Team.
Aside from her amazing stats on the court, Larson is also an all-star in the classroom as she sports a 3.93 GPA in Civil Engineering. She is a regular member on the UTEP Dean’s List and has been named to C-USA’s Commissioner’s Honor Roll from 2012-2016. She has also received a C-USA Commissioner’s Academic Medal for the past three seasons. Larson has also garnered C-USA All-Academic Team honors for three consecutive seasons (2014-2016).
AUSTIN; C-USA ALL-FRESHMAN TEAM
Rookie Macey Austin has made an immediate impact for the Orange and Blue and was awarded for her efforts by being named to C-USA’s 2016 All-Freshman team. A regular starter for UTEP, Austin has played in 98 sets this season. The outside hitter paces the Miners with 259 total kills with a 2.64 kill per set average. Austin has also registered 41 digs, 30 blocks, three service aces and an assist. In league matches, the Fort Worth, Texas native, hammered 151 total kills, 24 digs, 15 blocks and a service ace. Austin registered double-digit kills in 14 matches this season, including a season-best 18 kills twice.
LARSON & VILLA; C-USA ALL-CONFERENCE SECOND TEAM
Two members of the UTEP volleyball team received All-Conference honors Wednesday as the league named seniors Sarah Villa and Lindsey Larson to the Second-Team All-C-USA list.
Lindsey Larson is rounding out her time as a Miner in superb fashion as the senior will finish her UTEP career having played in 108 sets this season. Larson serves as team captain along with Villa. The setter is first on the team in assists (611) as well as service aces (24) and second in kills (214), digs (302) and blocks (86). The Humboldt, Saskatchewan, Canada native, reached a double-double 18 times including five triple-doubles in 2016, making her the only one in C-USA to reach a triple-double on the season.
In regular-season C-USA matches, Larson was first on the team in assists (304) and second in service aces (12), kills (98), digs (154) and total blocks (40). Larson reached a career-high 13 kills while hitting at a .650 clip versus Samford (9/16) and another career-best in digs (28) against UAB (9/25).
Sarah Villa has proven to be one of UTEP’s most potent defensive weapons as the libero has seen action in 108 sets in 2016. She is first on the team and conference in digs (527) with an average 4.88 digs per set. Villa is third on the team with 97 assists and has registered 15 service aces and seven kills. The El Paso native, reached 20 or more digs 11 times this season including a season-best 31 digs at Rice (9/23). In regular-season C-USA matches, the senior totaled 253 digs, 45 assists, six service aces and three kills.
ON THE RADAR
After a successful weekend at home, middle blocker Kylie Baumgartner was named C-USA’s Defensive Player of the Week on Nov. 7, making it her first weekly honor of her career. Baumgartner led the Miners to a perfect 3-0 weekend. The sophomore provided a dominant performance in a 3-1 win over Florida Atlantic with 11 kills at a .421 hitting percentage combined with 12 blocks, the second-most of any C-USA player in a conference match this season. On the season, Baumgartner totals 107 total blocks (18s/89a), 133 kills, 12 digs and six assists.
FILLING IN THE SHOES
UTEP’s freshmen have been making quite the splash this season. Macey Austin leads the UTEP pack with a team-best 259 kills while adding 41 digs, 30 blocks, three service aces and an assist on the season. Briana Arellano has also proved to be force on the court with 197 digs, 92 kills, 21 service aces, nine blocks and eight assists. Ali Vidali follows in suit with totals including, 75 kills, 34 digs, four blocks, four assists and two service aces. Niki Cebak has also made contributions of her own with 146 total digs, 16 service aces and 23 assists.