Photo: UTEP Athletics

UTEP Volleyball set to host Marshall, Rice

UTEP volleyball returns to Memorial Gym this week to take on Marshall on Friday at 6 p.m. (MT) and Rice on Sunday at 1 p.m. (MT).

The Miners fell in three sets (21-25, 20-25, 13-25) to UTSA in Memorial Gym on Oct. 11. Talia Jones led the Miners attack with eight kills, two block assists and four digs. Junior setter Lindsey Larson, registered 17 assists while adding 10 digs, three block assists and three kills. Larson has now registered 12 double-doubles in 2015.

BACK ROW depth

UTEP has had a consistent rotation of senior Ashley Peak and junior Sarah Villa at the starting libero position this season. Villa anchors the Miners’ defense with 3.77 digs per set while adding 32 assists and five service aces. Peak averages 3.72 digs per set, and has also contributed 38 assists and six service aces.

Meanwhile, Lindsey Larson who plays all six rotations, ranks third on the squad with 3.23 digs per set while adding 680 assists and a team-best 17 service aces. Senior Naomi Whitehair has also mixed in with 1.83 digs per set in 64 sets played. Whitehair has recorded eight service aces this season.


Four Miners (Coline Coessens. Ashley Grzebeniak, Lindsey Larson and Dalainee Perry) have registered one or more double-doubles this season. They have accumulated 25 total double-doubles, which is the most since 2009 when the team closed out the season with 27. Larson has registered a team-best 12 double-double performances with a career-best 62 assists and 27 digs in the victory against Brown University (9/11).

Coessens follows with nine total double-doubles, with a season-best 22 kills and 10 digs to lead the Miners to a win against Southeast Missouri State (9/18).  Perry has accumulated three, with a career best against South Alabama (9/5) where she tallied 16 kills and 12 digs. Grzebeniak notched her first career double-double against Middle Tennessee State (9/27), as she hammered 14 kills and 10 digs.


UTEP fans are seeing a whole set of fresh faces at the middle blocker position. The Miners did not return anyone at the position but were able to bring in great talent to fill the void. Redshirt-freshman Kylie Baumgartner has joined the Miners on the court after sitting out the 2014 season.

The squad also welcomed Tatum Winter, a junior who transferred from Scottsdale Community College and true freshman Maddie Morgan from San Rafael, Calif.


In the sixth match of the season, Larson reached a career high in assists with 59 and proceeded to break that a match after that. She posted 62 assists against Brown (9/11) while adding another career-best 27 digs. The junior matched her career-best blocks with seven in a match against Belmont (9/4).


UTEP ranked fourth nationally with 17.66 digs per set and sixth with 1,360 team digs, according to the NCAA stats released Oct. 11. The Miners were also sixth in attacks per set with 38.16 and a total of 2,938.


UTEP entered the 2015 season sporting four athletes that were raised and trained outside of the United States. Canada is the most represented with three players (Lindsey Larson, Ashley Grzebeniak and Niki Cebak) and Belgium follows with one (Coline Coessens).

Three of the international athletes (junior setter Larson, sophomore outside hitter Coessens and freshman outside hitter Grzebeniak) are part of the starting lineup.


UTEP has accumulated 176 total blocks, which equates to a 2.29 blocks per set average, ranking the squad fourth in Conference USA. This is the highest average UTEP has achieved since 2012 when it averaged 2.36 blocks per set. Team leaders Xitlali Herrera and Jean Horton became AVCA Division I All-American honorable mention selections that season.


The young UTEP volleyball squad has made a dramatic turnaround this season, as it has surpassed the win total from last year. The Miners are 7-13 overall, while they finished up the 2014 season at 6-23. The Miner starting lineup includes three newcomers (Ashley Grzebeniak, Maddie Morgan and Kylie Baumgartner), while returning only one starter from the previous season (Lindsey Larson).

The only senior in the lineup is Ashley Peak, who is the starting libero for the first time in her career.

Live Stats:

UTEP vs. Marshall:

UTEP vs. Rice:

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UTEP vs. Marshall:

UTEP vs. Rice:


Series: UTEP volleyball will continue in conference play as it takes on Marshall University on Friday. This will be the 15th meeting between the Miners and the Thundering Herd. The last match between the opponents was last year (10/26/2014), where UTEP pushed Marshall into four sets but ultimately fell 3-1,  (25-16, 25-9, 22-25, 25-18).

In that game, Coline Coessens achieved her seventh double-double of the 2014 season by tallying 12 kills and 11 digs out of a team effort of 52 digs, while Talia Jones registered 10 kills. Lindsey Larson set a full court performance with 32 assists, five digs, and three assisted blocks.


The Thundering Herd (12-8, 3-4 C-USA) has three leading attackers as it comes to match up against the Miners. Cassie Weaver has registered 277 kills (3.55 per set); Taylor Pelton has 228 kills (2.96 per set), followed by Ally Klekover, who also leads the team with a .391 hitting percentage, with 211 kills (2.64 per set).

Defensively, the Herd has three strong leaders to match its offense. Allie Kellerman leads with 372 digs (4.65 per set); Weaver has registered 246 digs (3.15 per set), followed by Kayla Simmons with 142 digs (1.80 per set). Klekover also proves to be strong defensively by recording a total of 49 blocks.


Series: UTEP will be taking on Conference USA opponent Rice for the 39th time when the teams meet on Sunday. Last year the Miners played Rice twice and fell short to the Owls in both match-ups. In their first meeting of the 2014 season (10/03/14), UTEP lost 3-0 despite the 11 kills and 13 digs registered by Coline Coessens.

In the next meeting between the two teams (10/17/14), UTEP fought against the Owls as they opened up the match with a 10-5 lead over the Miners, but fell short 3-0, (25-22, 25-12, 25-18). Coessens set the pace with 15 kills, Lindsey Larson aided the defense with 28 assists, and Sarah Villa led with 13 digs.


The Owls (13-6, 3-2 C-USA) are bringing three offensive leaders as well as several strong defensive players against the Miners. Leah Mikesky paces the team with 269 kills (3.54 per set), Chelsey Harris has 229 kills (3.18 per set), and Noelle Whitlock has 153 kills (2.01 per set).

Portia Okafor leads with a .350 hitting percentage in 75 sets played, while Julianna Dole has registered 407 assists (6.36 per set) in the 64 sets she’s played. Defensively, Whitlock and Mikesky both contribute with 202 digs (2.66 per set) and 196 digs (2.58 per set) respectively, while Okafor leads the team in blocks with a total of 90 (1.20 per set).

Author: UTEP Athletics