DENTON, Tx – UTEP volleyball (1-1) will travel to Denton to take on North Texas (0-0) and Stephen F. Austin (7-1) this weekend for three of its five remaining preseason matches.
The Miners start with a double-header on Saturday against North Texas at 11:00 a.m. MT and Stephen F. Austin at 1:00 p.m. MT. UTEP will finish the slate of contests with a match against the Mean Green on Sunday at 9:30 a.m. MT.
Coach Ben Wallis enters his second season as UTEP’s head coach following an eight-win turnaround in his first year (13-15, 6-8). Wallis said the weekend is another opportunity to prove to Conference-USA that UTEP will be a force to be reckoned with in the upcoming spring season.
“It’s another chance for our young growing program to prove that we’re going to be one of the better teams in the conference every year,” said the second-year coach. “People are going to have to take UTEP volleyball seriously now and moving forward.”
The Miners return to action after upsetting Texas State (8-1) on Sept. 12, handing the reigning Sun Belt Conference Champion Bobcats their first home loss since Sept. 6, 2019.
In UTEP’s two meetings with Texas State, sophomore outside hitter Alianza Darley collected a combined 29 kills, setting a career-high with 17 kills thanks to a .382 hitting percentage in the Miners’ 3-1 victory. Junior transfer libero Ha’ahula Crisostomo racked up 42 digs in her first weekend in a Miner uniform as well as set up the match-winning kill for junior outside hitter Serena Patterson. Patterson served up five aces in addition to her eight kills and seven digs in UTEP’s upset.
“This Saturday is going to be a tough test for us with two top-100 teams that have good pin players on both antennas. SFA is really balanced and they have a good defensive team that serves it tough. They’re in a similar offensive system to us where they try to set at least four people a lot…That style of system keeps you off balance and it also doesn’t let you stand in front of one person very often,” Coach Ben Wallis shared.
“UNT, on the other hand, is in a 5-1 system with a senior setter, two senior outside hitters, and is a veteran team with a lot of firepower on the pins. … UNT is perennially one of the top four or five teams in our conference and so that’ll be a good measuring stick for us as well even though we beat them at home last year late in the year they were without their setter and without their L2 who didn’t play because of a concussion.”
“It will be a tough test for us without two of our top point scorers sitting at home with ankle injuries, but it’ll allow for us to get some younger players on the floor to see if they’re capable of helping us in the spring and down the road. … All in all, I feel like we’ve got a competitive group that’s looking forward to competing this weekend and learning more about ourselves,” Wallis added.