Photo Courtesy of UTEP Athletics
2022 CUSA Volleyball Tournament Game 4: UTEP vs Charlotte

UTEP Volleyball Sweeps Charlotte; Advances to C-USA Semifinals

 The UTEP volleyball team (17-11, 10-4 Conference USA) defeated the Charlotte 49ers (11-16, 5-9 C-USA) in straight sets, 3-0 (25-30, 25-14, 25-22), in the Conference USA Tournament Quarterfinals Friday evening at E. A. Diddle Arena. 

Story via UTEP Athletics

Two Miners hit double-digit kills, Serena Patterson (11) and Kaya Weaver (10). Ashlynn Barnes (21) and Mattie Gantt (14) combined to put up 35 assists and Patterson had a team-high 12 digs for a double-double. Marian Ovalle and Vittoria Price were zero-error hitting .364 and .571, respectively.

UTEP’s all-around performance held the statistical advantage in kills (44-28), hitting percentage (.225 – .094) but were out aced (7-5). Both teams tallied six blocks.   

“I’m really proud of us defensively,” head coach Ben Wallis said. “We made some adjustments against Charlotte the second time we played them this year and they scored on us in certain ways, and we really paid attention to the scout. And now our focus turns to Rice. I have a lot of respect for their program. But at the end of the day, we built this team to go toe to toe with these guys. And I know that this team is looking forward to competing tomorrow against a team that we’re hungry to show that we can move ahead of them. And that’s been the whole goal.”

SET ONE | The opening set consisted of eight early tied scores with UTEP snapping the 11-11 tie with a kill by Patterson. The Miners drove an 8-2 run in the midst of three timeouts to stretch the lead, 21-15. Charlotte put up three straight forcing a UTEP timeout. With the Miners at set point, the 49ers land two but a kill by Price seals the set win, 25-20.

SET TWO | With UTEP up 7-3, Charlotte took a timeout and after the break was able to come within two, 13-11. The Miners exploded with a 9-1 run as they entered the red zone, 20-11. An error by Charlotte and an ace by Hula Crisostomo gave the Miners another set win, 25-14, and a 2-0 advantage in the match.

SET THREE | UTEP jumped to an 11-2 lead in the final set, but Charlotte responded with a7-1 run of their own to close in on the Miners, 13-10. The 49ers evened out the set at 19 after two successful challenges. With UTEP two points away from match point, Charlotte closed the deficit 23-22, but a kill by Ovalle and a Charlotte error lifted the UTEP Miners into the semifinals. 


Final Thoughts from Coach Wallis      
“I’m excited for these guys. It’s been a tough couple of days trying to figure out how we wanted to roll out there. Not having our top point scorer for many teams and when you lose your top scorer, it puts you in a predicament where you’re stressed out and you don’t know what to roll with. But honestly, I knew the lineup that we wanted to run out today and I knew that Serena (Patterson) would be just fine going back into a familiar role of six-rotation outside hitter, and I knew she would carry these guys and also just get them in the right space emotionally. And so not many teams get to run off the bench the junior college player of the year in Marian Ovalle. And you know, she has been such a great teammate this year. When she gets her opportunity, she always smiles at me and she goes, ‘okay, coach, I’m ready’, and that’s what she did tonight. She didn’t make an error in the match and really just helped us score on the right side over there and did a really good job of being prepared to play. And this time of year, those types of people on your roster help you win matches and the types of people that want to moan and gripe and whine about why they’re not playing help you lose matches. We had a lot of intentional defensive touches, especially for Alyssa Sianez and Patterson in the back row, and Hula (Crisostomo) was really good and I’m proud of that effort. And for our team, we just go out and function in the lineup; it is a pretty good testament to a better and talented roster. Kaya Weaver played really well as a young buck, and she was really good for long stretches. We are excited for our competition tomorrow because of the way we built this team, including Marian (Ovalle) and Ashley Barnes, who played really well tonight in her freshman role. She hasn’t started but two or three matches for us this year and she goes out in a conference championship style environment and goes out there playing really well for us. But we know what we have to do execution wise. A lot of it is going to come down to how quickly we can get on to the next play, how well we deal with the stress with a spectacular team in front of us. We’re excited about it. We have been all year.”

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