Photo: UTEP Athletics
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – UTEP rallied with wins in the second, third and fifth sets to earn its first Conference USA victory, 3-2 (20-25, 25-16, 26-24, 17-25, 15-5), Sunday afternoon at Bartow Arena.
Lindsey Larson made an impact on both sides of the ball with 28 digs, 18 assists, 10 kills, eight blocks and three service aces for her fifth triple-double in 2016.
The Miners’ offense was led by freshman Macey Austin who registered 18 kills, three digs, two blocks and a service ace while Maddie Morgan contributed nine kills, two blocks and a dig. Amanda King finished with a team-best 23 assists and added 10 digs, three service aces and two kills for her third double-double on the season.
Libero Sarah Villa led the team with 31 digs and registered seven assists and a kill and Sophomore Kylie Baumgartner notched 10 blocks and five kills.
UTEP (3-11, 1-1 C-USA) racked up 25 blocks to earn a second-best finish in the Miners’ record book for most blocks in a five-set match.
The Blazers took an early lead in set one, moving up 5-2 on a kill by Erika Zembyla but the Miners responded with three straight points to tie the set. The score would tie six more times before UAB claimed the opening frame, 25-20.
The Orange and Blue stormed into the second stanza with seven unanswered points. UAB drew back within one point in the middle of the set before UTEP was forced to call a timeout. The Miners came back from the break to a 3-0 run to extend its lead, 19-15. UAB would score two more points but the Miners held on to win, 25-17 and even the match at 1-1.
Both teams came back from the intermission eager to take control of the match. Set three saw 13 tie scores and seven lead changes but a kill and a service ace from Austin would give UTEP a 2-1 match advantage.
The fourth frame became another point-for-point battle between the squads but the Blazers went off on a 5-2 run to take a 18-12 lead. The Orange and Blue would pick up five more points but it was too late as UAB tied the match, 2-2, with a 25-17 win the fourth.
The Miners opened up the decisive set with a 9-1 lead over the Blazers before an attack error by Baumgartner gave UAB another point. UTEP allowed UAB to score only three more points before claiming the fifth set, 15-5, and the match, 3-2.
Next up for the Miners is a conference home-opener on Sunday, Oct. 2, against UTSA at 12 p.m. (MT) in Memorial Gym.