UTEP Volleyball Splits Season Opener

The UTEP volleyball team (1-1) split Friday’s double header with a victory over Northeastern (0-2), 3-2 (26-24, 22-25, 21-25, 25-22, 15-9) and a loss against host Northwestern, 3-0 (25-27, 21-25, 22-25) at the Wildcats Classic.


Story Via UTEP Athletics


UTEP 3, Northeastern 2

The UTEP volleyball team topped the Huskies, 3-2 (26-24, 22-25, 21-25, 25-22, 15-9) at the Wildcats Classic Friday.

UTEP had three players reach double-digits in kills, graduate student Serena Patterson (16), freshman Sara Pustahija (12) and junior Marian Ovalle (10). Hande Yetis achieved 27 assists while freshman Mattie Gantt tallied 18. Hula Crisostomo recorded three service aces while Patterson landed two. On the defense, Alyssa Sianez set the pace with 15 digs and Pustahijia achieved 13 digs for a double-double.

The Miners totaled 14 blocks against the Huskies.

“I am proud of our victory,” head coach Ben Wallis said. “We were down in the fourth set and really could have easily just kind of quit and gone away and taken our lumps and our loss, but we grinded back into it and Hula (Crisostomo) was a big part of that. I had to make a switch in the fourth to get her voice, her demeanor and her persona on the floor. So, she was a big reason why the game changed and just one person’s impact on the game is so significant sometimes.

“It was impressive,” Wallis said. “It was ugly for a while, but I’ll take an ugly win any day of the week over a pretty loss. It was a good team effort and got a bunch of youngsters out there that look like youngsters at times, but we’ll keep getting better every time out.”

SET ONE | After the Miners gained a 6-2 lead, the Huskies drove up a 4-0 run resulting in 9-8 lead change. UTEP answered back with their own 7-0 run through pure kills and blocks. The two teams battled it out forcing two set point moments, and a kill by Patterson wrapped up the set, 26-24.

SET TWO | The Miners once again took the lead, but the Huskies rallied gaining control of the set, 8-5. Northeastern pulls ahead, 21-17, after UTEP errors and a kill by Erica Staunton. Soon, the Huskies would seal the set, 25-22, off a Nailah Jenkins kill.

SET THREE | Similar to the previous set, the Huskies took a commanding lead, 13-7.  Northeastern held the advantage due to UTEP errors and points scored by Jenkins. As the Miners attempted to rally, the Huskies held them off and remained in control to win the set, 25-22, and take a 2-1 advantage in the match.

SET FOUR | The Miners had the biggest comeback of the match in the fourth set. The Huskies found a way to take a 16-9 lead heading into mid-set. However, UTEP kick-started a 10-0 run forcing Northeastern to take a timeout after back-to-back aces by senior libero Hula Crisostomo put the Miners up 19-16. That momentum rocked the Huskies as three straight errors from Northeastern secured the set win for UTEP, 25-22.

SET FIVE | UTEP stormed out to a 5-2 lead and controlled the set. Déjà vu occurred as Crisostomo blasted another ace to force a timeout by the competition at 13-8 in the set. Freshman outside hitter Sara Pustahija locked in one last kill that sealed the match with 15-9 win.

Northwestern 3, UTEP 0

The UTEP volleyball team suffered its first loss by sweep of the season against host Northwestern, 3-0 (25-27, 21-25, 22-25) at the Wildcats Classic Friday.

Yetis recorded 10 assists and two service aces in the contest while Gantt paced the squad with 14 assists. Crisostomo led the team with 16 digs. On the Offense, the Miners’ kill leaders were Ovalle (nine), Vittoria Price (six), and Patterson (six).

The Miners totaled nine blocks against the Wildcats.

“Northwestern is very veteran,” Wallis said. “They’re physical and have got two really good veteran senior outside hitters, and they were just better than us out of system. That’s what the whole game came down to. They found some kills out of system when they needed to. We served it pretty tough. We defended hard. We made some plays defensively and we were just badly out of system at the wrong times and didn’t make plays to win.

“I’m glad to learn this now against the big physical team,” Wallis said, “in a very hostile environment, in a big, giant arena, because that’s what it is going to be like it come November when we’re playing in Western Kentucky’s gym for the conference championships.”

SET ONE | Both teams put on quite the performance to kick off the set with an intense exchange of points that featured nine ties and two lead changes. The Miners highlighted their serving skills as the set consisted of five total aces all made by UTEP. Ryley Frye’s service ace tied up the set 24-24, but the ‘Cats pulled away with the set win, 27-25.

SET TWO | Another heavy back-and-forth set pressured both teams as the majority of tallied points were due to errors. The Miners took a 15-13 lead, but the Wildcats snuck into set point quickly to eventually take a 2-0 advantage in the match, 25-21. 

SET THREE | The Wildcats took the lead for good at 11-10 in a set that showcased three lead changes before Northwestern took over. As mid-set approached, the teams went on a kill-spree and kept knocking out points. UTEP called the first timeout of the set as the ‘Cats held a 22-17 advantage. A kill by Alianza Darley closed the deficit 24-22, but Northwestern’s Temi Thomas-Ailara blasted a kill to secure the sweep.

UTEP will conclude the tournament against Pacific at 11 a.m. MT Saturday (Aug. 27). 

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