Photo courtesy UTEP Athletics
LAFAYETTE, La. – The UTEP Volleyball team (1-1) defeated Louisiana (0-2) in three sets (25-21, 25-21, 25-20), 3-0, on Friday night. The Miners fell to Tulane (2-0) in three sets (25-11, 25-18, 25-18), earlier in the day at Earl K. Long Fieldhouse.
The Orange and Blue were led by Jones, who posted team highs in kills (seven) and blocks (four). Yost also registered four blocks, while Lazda locked in four kills at a .375 clip and four service aces. Syenna Masaki was the leading setter with 14 assists and two digs.
The Green Wave jumped out to an early 4-1 lead to begin the first set. The Miners battled, but a 16-2 run in the middle of the frame closed the door for UTEP, giving Tulane a 1-0 set advantage.
The second game was highlighted by Lazda, who connected on four consecutive aces, cutting into the Green Wave lead, 13-12. However, Tulane would go on a 12-6 run to close out the second set, and go up 2-0 over the Miners.
UTEP faced an early 11-1 deficit to begin the third frame. The Miners would battle back with an 11-6 run of their own, but would fall short in the set, 25-18, dropping the match 3-0.
“Starting out with Tulane is a blessing and a curse all at the same time. They are very balanced and efficient. They are a top 60 team for a reason. They have six good arms, and you have to finish with a big swing or else they will. We struggled offensively to score against a solid defensive team, and that isn’t a huge surprise. We had moments where we sustained good volleyball, but they aren’t coming in long enough stretches yet. We know where we are deficient, and we just need time to develop some of our younger players. Our veterans have to produce more while they are learning.”
The Miners bounced back from a loss earlier in the day to sweep Louisiana. They were led by the big swings of Irbe Lazda, Cheyenne Jones and Anamarija Mikovic who tallied eight kills each. Lazda posted an impressive .636 hitting percentage along with three blocks. Serena Patterson dominated the serving game, posting six service aces, and locking in a team-high 20 digs.
The Miners and Ragin’ Cajuns took part in an epic first set. The two squads found themselves tied on 13 different occasions. UTEP found separation when Mikovic notched a kill that put it up 20-17, forcing a Louisiana timeout. The Orange and Blue would take full advantage of the separation, and won the frame, 25-20.
The second set was much of the same between the two teams. Back-and- forth action all the way until the 20-point mark, where UTEP took control of the frame, 20-18, on an ace from Kristen Fritsche. The Miners would take full advantage of this lead, and finish off the Ragin’ Cajuns 25-21 to take the two-set cushion.
It was a different story to begin the third frame for the Miners. UTEP saw itself down by as much as five points early on. However the Orange and Blue dug it themselves out of the hole, regaining the lead, 19-18. The Miners never looked back, completing the sweep with a 25-20 victory in the third set.
“We got solid contributions from everybody. We were relentless defensively. Serena Patterson pulled out 20 digs. She was flying around making plays. What we weren’t doing well offensively, we were doing well digging and blocking it. Everyone chipped in. Cheyenne (Jones) had a really great match. She was much less predictable than she was this morning. She used the entire court. I thought she chipped in with eight really solid kills. She really sealed the line from a first team all-conference outside hitter on their team. Cheyenne really just shut her down. Darley contributed with her first collegiate match. She had a few kills and stuffed a few balls. She got some of the freshman jitters out. It was a really good collective win. We never stopped competing, and we stayed composed.”
Next up, the Miners will cap off their trip to Louisiana with a match against UIW Saturday at 9 a.m. MT.