The UTEP volleyball team (15-4, 4-2 Conference USA) will host a pair of matches against UAB (8-10, 3-3 C-USA) Friday (Oct. 22) at 6 p.m. MT and Saturday (Oct. 23) at 12 p.m. MT in Memorial Gym.
“We’ve really got our work cut out for us this weekend with UAB,” head coach Ben Wallis said. “It’s a team that serves it tough and passes it fairly well so I think the scores will be close and the team that executes later in the sets will probably come away with both victories.
“Betsy and Ryan Freeburg will have their team ready to play as they’re a really good coaching staff and we have similarities in our offensive systems so that will be a problem for both of us as well,” Wallis said.
Hitting with Consistency
UTEP has hit .250 or better 13 times total on the season, including eight matches at .301 or above. The opposition has only topped .250 four times in 19 contests on the campaign. Seven Miners are swinging better than .250 on the year. Vittoria Price (.438) leads the team among players with at least 15 kills.
The Miners registered a season-high 14 blocks in the 3-0 win against Louisiana Tech on Oct. 9. UTEP has posted at least 10 blocks in nine matches this season. Alianza Darley (70), Kenidy Howard (59), Price (53) and Ema Uskokovic (45) each have tallied at least 45 total blocks to lead the charge.
In Conference USA, UTEP is ranked in the top three in 10 different categories:
- Aces per Set (1.81, 29thNCAA)
- Team Service Aces (132, 24thNCAA)
- Hitting Percentage (0.273, 19thNCAA)
- Match W-L Percentage (0.789, 30thNCAA)
- Team Kills (1,014, 25thNCAA)
- Team Total Blocks (171.5, 45thNCAA)
- Assists per Set (12.60, 31stNCAA)
- Kills per Set (13.89, 25thNCAA)
- Opponent Hitting Percentage (0.193, 123rdNCAA)
- Team Assists (920, 32ndNCAA)
UTEP has five players ranked in the top nine in seven different categories in the conference: Hande Yetis is fourth in aces per set (0.40), Alyssa Sianez is fifth in total digs (282), Howard is eighth in blocks per set (1.05), and Alianza is ninth in total blocks (69).
Serena Patterson is ranked in three categories: seventh in points (278) and total kills (245) and ninth in kills per set (3.45).
UAB is 8-10 (3-3 C-USA) on the year, recently losing back-to-back matches to North Texas. Nationally, the Blazers are currently ranked in the top 100: 56th in aces per set (1.68), 90th in team service aces (109) and 100th in assists per set (11.92). The program is led offensively by junior outside hitter Fernanda Maida with 323 kills (5.13 kills/set) and sophomore setter Lydia Canturk with 407 assists (6.26 assists/set) and 24 service aces. On the defense, freshman defensive specialist Erin Powers paces the squad in digs (271, 4.17 digs/set) while freshman middle blocker Chloe Rodriguez leads the way in blocks (40, 8 solo / 32 assists).
“They’ve got two exceptional outside hitters in Alex Kells and Fernanda Maida, who is in the top 10 in the country in kills per set,” said Wallis. “She’s a handful and we’ve got to execute a really good plan against her or she’s going to slice us up.”
The Series vs. UAB
UTEP is 7-14 against UAB, and the first meeting was back in 2003. Under head coach Ben Wallis the Miners are 1-2 against the Blazers with the lone win via sweep.
“I’m glad we’re back playing at home and we’ve shown ourselves to be pretty tough to beat at home this year and so I’m hopeful that my team is excited and ready to get out here and play really hard for our El Paso fans once again,” Wallis expressed.
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