Photo courtesy UTEP Athletics
The UTEP volleyball showed promise in the opening set, but ultimately dropped its match against Rice, 1-3, on Sunday in Memorial Gym.
Macey Austin once again paced the Orange and Blue’s offensive efforts with a match-high 13 kills while adding a dig and a block. Ashley Grzebeniak followed with eight kills and added four digs and a block.
Lindsey Larson registered 18 assists and 15 digs for a double-double and also contributed with five kills and two service aces. Sarah Villa’s totals included 18 digs and six assists while Amanda King reached 14 assists and four digs.
The Miners totaled 52 digs, 40 kills, 39 assists, seven blocks and two service aces while Rice notched 70 digs, 58 kills, 53 assists, 14 blocks and three service aces on the match.
Rice got scored the first two points of the match with kills from McKay Kyle and Chelsey Harris but the Miners responded with a kill from Larson. The Miners began to get ahead, 11-7, in the set and Rice was forced to call its first timeout. The Owls nearly made a comeback later on in the frame but the Miners were able to hold them off and take the first set, 25-22.
The Owls stormed out into the fourth set with a 4-0 run. UTEP was able to score back-to-back points but Rice continued to lead throughout the remainder of the frame. The visiting team tied the match, 1-1, with its 25-13 victory in the second set.
After the intermission, the Orange and Blue was able to score the first point of the period with a kill from Austin. However, the Owls responded with two consecutive points and a point for point battle was sparked. UTEP called a timeout after Rice went on a 5-0 run to extend its lead to 18-10 but the Owls never looked back and claimed a 25-14 victory in the third and a 2-1 match-lead.
The Owls took a 2-1 lead to open the fourth stanza but the Miners went on a 4-0 run to force Rice to call an early timeout. UTEP scored two more points before head coach Holly Watts asked for a timeout due to a 5-0 run on the Owl’s part. Rice was able to carry out its rhythm through the remainder of the set and the Miners dropped the final period, 18-25, and the match, 1-3.
The Orange and Blue will continue its Conference USA schedule with two road matches next week. First, UTEP will face LA Tech in Ruston, La. On Friday at 6 p.m. (MT) then follow that match with another against Middle Tennessee in Murfreesboro at 12 p.m. (MT).