Photo courtesy UTEP Athletics
MISSOULA, Mt. – The UTEP volleyball team (5-5) swept Montana (0-8) (25-15, 25-18, 25-20) Saturday afternoon at the West Auxiliary Gym on the campus of Montana.
Hometown kid Cheyenne Jones locked in 10 kills to help carry the Miners to the sweep. Serena Patterson also logged 10 kills, with a .412 hitting percentage.
The reigning Conference USA Freshman of the Week, Irbe Lazda, recorded nine kills and four blocks on a scorching .533 hitting percentage. Syenna Masaki paced the team in assists with 20, and Alex Torres led the way with nine digs. Mallory Yost also added four blocks to the effort.
With the victory, UTEP has now matched last year’s win total only 10 games into the season.
The Miners came out firing on all cylinders to begin the first set. UTEP began with a 7-3 run and never looked back, taking the set 25-15. The Orange and Blue posted a .462 hitting percentage to the Grizzlies .000 hitting percentage.
UTEP was led by Jones and Patterson in the frame, who posted five kills each.
The Orange and Blue continued their dominance from the first set with a 7-1 run to begin the second frame. Montana was unable to get back into the fgame due to UTEP’s play at the net, with Lazda and Yost stifling its attack. The Miners would roll to a 25-18 victory, and a two-set advantage.
UTEP came out with another hot start, stringing together a 6-1 run. However, the Grizzlies would fight back, tying the set at 12-12. The Miners were boasting a one-point lead, 21-20, and then finished things off with a 4-0 run to take the frame and complete the sweep.
Lazda carried the offensive workload, posting five kills in the set to help cap off the match.
“I thought it was a good team win. We had six attackers hit for really good percentages. We passed it really well, and we have been passing it really well for most of the year. We were relentless in digging, and keeping the ball off the ground, which we hadn’t done all weekend. We were a mess defensively all weekend, but today we weren’t. We got back to attacking it from the service line which was great.”
“We didn’t make the ridiculous give the point to the other team errors that we did all day yesterday. Some of that is youth and inexperience, but it is also a skill deficiency. That is my job to get them back in the gym, and to teach them how to end points better. We have to teach them how to defend harder, and be in the right places better. Everything that we are struggling with I know how to fix, so we will get back in the gym and fix it. Cheyenne (Jones) was playing inspired, because she was playing in front of her hometown crowd.”
“Her team wanted to win for her. Serena (Patterson) and Anamarija (Mikovic) put up big numbers on the left. Irbe (Lazda) and Mallory (Yost) were working really hard in transition. Once those four players started scoring it opened up our right-side attack. Then in the third set our right-side players went off too. This was our best offensive match of the year, and our setters did a really good job of listening to Nick (Petrovic).”
“This was a team we should have beat, and a team we executed really well against for two thirds of the match. I am happy to get out of Montana with a victory, but myself and the players are disappointed in our weekend. We are going to get back home and fix some of our deficiencies. We are going to get ready for Texas Tech, Houston and Incarnate Word this week.”
Next up, the Miners take a trip to Lubbock, Texas next weekend to take part in the Red Raider Classic.