ALBUQUERQUE, NM- Amanda King capped her collegiate volleyball career with a double-double, her fifth of the season as the UTEP volleyball team’s season came to an end in a three-set loss to New Mexico at the Johnson Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
King recorded a team-leading 27 assists and 12 digs in her effort, but the Miners’ third set surge was not enough, as the Lobos took the match 25-16, 25-16, 28-26. UTEP ended the 2017 campaign with a 6-22, 3-11 Conference USA record while the Lobos evened their record at 15-15, 6-10 in the Mountain West with two matches left in their season.
Two Miners notched double-digit kills, with Macey Austin knocking down 14 to lead the team and Cheyenne Jones throwing down 10. Austin hit at a blistering .333 clip and ended her sophomore season with a team-leading 359 kills. King’s 27 assists paced the Miners, while her 12 digs lead the team.
Fellow senior Dania Orozco chipped in nine digs in her effort, while Briana Arellano picked up eight digs and Niki Cebak was close behind with seven. Jones led the UTEP defensive effort at the net, teaming up for six block assists to stop the Lobo attacks.
In total, the Miners recorded 39 kills, 37 assists, 46 digs, and 16 block assists while the Lobos totaled 39 kills, 38 assists, 42 digs, two solo blocks and 14 block assists.
The Lobos jumped out to a quick 8-1 run to start the first frame before King’s first of four setter’s dumps started a Miner run. Arellano and Austin went back-to-back to cut the lead in half before New Mexico’s Mariessa Carrasco and Carly Beddingfield notched kills to extend the lead to 10-4.
Austin and Jones exchanged kills with the Lobos’ Victoria Spragg, and, after errors by both teams, Baumgartner and Arellano teamed up for a block to bring the Miners within five. Spragg would get another kill for the home team, but Arellano and Austin would both tip over the New Mexico blockers to notch two UTEP points. The teams exchanged service errors, but back-to-back blocks by the Lobos would extend their lead to 19-12.
The Miners benefitted from a New Mexico attack error, and Austin, Baumgartner, and Jones would each get kills for UTEP, but a 4-0 run by New Mexico ended the set at 25-16. Austin led the Miners with five kills in the first frame, while Orozco hustled for six digs, but a .314 hitting percentage by UTEP’s host proved to hurt the outcome of the set.
The second frame saw the Lobos again strike first, leading 4-1 before Austin notched her sixth kill of the match. The Miners would respond with their own 4-1 run, behind two kills by Jones, one from Arellano and a successful block assist by Jones and Mallory Yost, to get their first lead of the set at 6-5. The Lobos would rally to tie the set at seven, before pulling away to lead by three, 12-9.
Austin’s kill would give the Miners double-digit points, but New Mexico exploded on a run to lead 20-10. Again getting the side-out, Austin recorded another kill, as did Jones, while Jones and Yost again matched up for a block assist to cut the lead to 21-13.
The Miners would get their final three points from two New Mexico errors and another Jones kill, but the Lobos took the second set 25-16. Jones, in her best set of the match, led her team with five kills and two block assists in the frame.
Fighting to prevent a sweep, the Miners notched three quick points, courtesy of a kill by Baumgartner and two by Austin, to go up 3-0 in the third frame. In the most competitive set of the match, the Miners and Lobos tied five times before Baumgartner’s kill began a short UTEP run to go up 18-15.
Spragg would slow the run with a kill, but Baumgartner responded with one of her own. Two points for the Lobos cut the lead to one, but Austin and Arellano went back-to-back with their kills to keep the Miners up 21-18, forcing a New Mexico timeout. Out of the break, the Lobos got two quick points to again get within one of the Miners, but King’s kill and another block by Jones and Morgan kept them at bay, 23-20, and prompted another timeout by the home team.
This time, the Lobos were the ones to get the two points to force a UTEP timeout with the match tight at 23-22, still in the Miners’ favor. The Lobos quickly tied the match at 23 with a service ace, and then brought up match point with a Hailey Rubino kill. Watts took another timeout to regroup, and Austin spoiled match point with a crucial kill. Jones and Morgan kept the energy going with a block assist to bring UTEP’s set point, but Ali Vidali’s serve floated over the back line to tie the set at 25.
New Mexico’s Mercedes Pacheco returned the favor with her own service error, but an attack error by Jones evened the set at 26. Spragg would give the advantage to the Lobos with a kill, and a block assist by New Mexico ended the set at 28-26 and the match 3-0.
“[We] battled in the third set like we want to be known for,” head coach Holly Watts said. “We would like to have won that one to see what happens in the next set. I’m really proud of these seniors and what they have contributed to our program. There was another nice performance by Macey and a nice hitting percentage as well from Kylie.”
The Miners ended the season with 1,174 kills, 1,084 assists, 126 service aces, 1,300 digs and 186 total blocks.